The passage of the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha amid din on Tuesday gave a divided Opposition another chance to close ranks against demonetisation. A day after chinks appeared in the Opposition-sponsored nationwide protests against banning of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, with Janata Dal (United) and the Biju Janata Dal
choosing to stay away, these parties will meet on Wednesday morning to decide if the passage of the Bill violated parliamentary procedures and should be taken to President Pranab Mukherjee.
“This is like trampling upon the Constitution,” said Congress
spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
member in the lower house Sushmita Dev said the Opposition parties would have a strategy session on Wednesday before Parliament
convenes to decide on taking their complaint over the way the government pushed the tax amendment Bill in the house.
“The government rushed through the Bill. What was the great hurry to pass a law, which affects the whole tax structure of the country?” she asked. “Under Constitution Article 117 and Parliamentary Rules and Procedure, the President must give his assent before an amendment is considered in the House but that was surpassed.”
Two amendments by Revolutionary Socialist Part member N K Premachandran
and Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD were allowed. Premachandran refused to move his amendment saying it did not have the Presidential assent while Mahtab’s amendment was negated by a voice vote.
The Opposition members said the Bill should not be discussed before the House debated demonetisation. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the Bill was of urgent public importance, and had to be passed immediately.
Saugat Roy said the Opposition did not get a chance to oppose introduction of the Bill on Monday because it was done stealthily. Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar countered the Opposition’s charge saying amendments to some of the clauses did not require the President’s nod.
“All the formalities were completed,” he said.
Ananth Kumar made a fresh appeal to the opposition parties to debate demonetisation while assuring them that PM Modi will intervene.
affairs minister defended the passage of the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 amid din saying the government wanted to curb black money and use the collections for the benefit of the poor at the earliest.
Amid slogan shouting by the Opposition in the lower house, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the Bill would give means to the government to run schemes such as Garib Kalyan Kosh.
Rejecting government’s arguments, Surjewala said that Modi was actually helping black money hoarders through demonetisation and the fresh amnesty scheme, which converts unaccounted money into legal tender after payment of 50% income tax.
“He is 50:50 PM,” said Surjewala.
Noting that under Section 271-I-C (iii) of the Income Tax Act, if anybody with black-money had been caught post-demonetisation he or she would be liable to pay 132% tax, the Congress
leader said there was no rationale to launch a fresh voluntary income disclosure scheme.
Cong questions formation of 5-member panel on demonetisation
questioned the government’s plans to set up a committee of five chief ministers to look into the demonetisation issue even as its constitution remained a sticking point for the government managers. “It is surprising that the government is thinking of it after 21 days of demonetisation which has brought misery for millions of people. It proves out point that the government is dealing with the note ban issue in an-adhoc manner,” said Congress
spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
He asked whether the Prime Minister would implement the recommendation of such a panel if it goes against note ban.
Sources said Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy, Tripura CM Manik Sarkar, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan could be named for the panel but the opposition leaders had not consented so far.