After several adjournments, Lok Sabha passes tax bill

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) Amid several adjournments and ruckus created by the opposition on Tuesday, the Lok Sabha passed by voice vote a bill to amend the income tax laws to provide for stiffer penal tax in the wake of the November 8 demonetisation.

The lower house of Parliament was disrupted repeatedly on Tuesday as the opposition created a ruckus over the fiscal chaos after demonetisation. The opposition was adamant over its demand for a debate on the contentious issue under a rule governing adjournment motion that entails voting in the end.

Opposition members raised slogans against the Centre’s decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, which led to cash crunch across the country.

The first adjournment came soon after the house met at 11 a.m. when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s attempts to proceed with Question Hour failed. The house was first adjourned till 11.30 a.m, then till noon and further till 2 p.m.

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The scene was no different after lunch, paving the way for another adjournment till 2.30 p.m.

At 2.30 p.m., as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, for consideration and passage, the opposition objected.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the debate on demonetisation should be taken up first while Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay suggested clubbing the debate on the bill and demonetisation, which the Speaker rejected.

Jaitley called it one of the steps by the Centre to curb black money. “This is an attempt to get the (black) money into the mainstream,” he said.

Members complained that they were not able to move for changes as certain amendments needed President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent.

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Amendments to a bill that may relate to drawing money from the Consolidated Fund of India need President’s approval.

As the opposition protested, Mahajan’s said the bill should have been debated but could not be since the house was not maintaining order.

Amid the ruckus, the bill was passed by voice vote, and the house was adjourned for the day.

According to the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, the declarant will have to pay a tax of 60 per cent and an additional surcharge of 25 per cent of the tax (i.e. 15 per cent of such income), resulting in a total tax component of 75 per cent.

The stiffer penalty will be applicable to undisclosed income or investment or cash deposited in banks after the demonetisation of high-value currency notes.

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