Amidst din and without debate, Lok Sabha today passed within minutes a major bill that provides a window to legalise black money post-demonetisation and a tax on that amount, triggering a controversy with the Opposition calling it a "black day" and accusing it of being "undemocratic and dictatorial". Marking transaction of the first legislative business in the two-week-old Winter Session, the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed by the Lok Sabha after days of total washout due to paralysis on the demonetisation issue. With the Opposition continuing to disrupt proceedings, the government suddenly brought the bill under the revised list of business showing its eagerness to get it passed immediately. Even as the slogan-shouting by Opposition members continued, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the bill will give means to the Government of India to run schemes like Garib Kalyan Kosh. "I urge the House to accept the amendments," he said while moving the bill for consideration and passing. Immediately, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan declared, "There will be no discussion". However, later she lamented that an important bill like this was being discussed without any discussion. Jaitley said the bill was brought after it came to the government's notice that some people were trying to illegally exchange the demonetised Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes. He said as per the amendment proposed, those caught illegally converting money will have to cough up 60 peer cent tax plus penalties, which will come to 85 per cent. Those who disclose black money to banks will have to pay 50 per cent tax, including surcharge and penalty. While they will get back 25 per cent immediately, the rest 25 per cent will be returned after 4 years. Some amendments moved by opposition members were rejected as those required approval of the President, which could not be obtained. Two amendments by N K Premchandran (RSP) and B Mahtab (BJD) were allowed. While Premchandran refused to move the amendment as he was part of the protest, Mahtab's amendment was negated by a voice vote. Earlier, opposition members said the bill could not be discussed before the debate on demonetisation as the measure was a follow up of the note ban decision. Mahajan said since the bill is of urgent public importance, it has to be passed immediately.
Though she wanted a debate, she said "it is impossible" because of the behaviour of the opposition members. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and TMC's Sudip Bandhopadhyay said the two issues--Adjournment Motion on demonetisation and the Income Tax Amendment Bill-- can be discussed together as the issues were similar. Saugata Roy (TMC) said since Jaitley yesterday introduced the Bill "surreptitiously" and "stealthily" amid din, the opposition did not get a chance to oppose its introduction as per rules. B Mahtab said discussion on demonetisation was also necessary along with a debate on the bill as it had serious repercussions on the Income Tax laws. He said a way should be found. After the passage of the bill, the opposition termed as "black day" in Lok Sabha the passage of taxation bill amidst din without debate and accused the government of being "undemocratic and dictatorial. The government, however, blamed the opposition for not participating in the debate and said it was "tragic" that the Bill had to be passed in the din. It asserted that the measure had to be passed for the "welfare of the poor and country" and cannot wait for those who are unable to "digest" the action against black money and corruption. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, "We want that Income Tax Amendment Act should come through the rules. The amendments proposed by the Opposition MPs and leaders should also be kept in mind before taking the assent from the President." He said the bill was introduced yesterday and even the ruling party MPs had not studied it thoroughly. And today the bill has been passed in a tearing hurry which was not right.