New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Parliament was on Wednesday adjourned sine die as the Budget Session (242nd Session) came to an end. While the Chairs of both houses expressed satisfaction over the amount of legislative business conducted, the government called it the most fruitful and golden session in Indian legislative history.
Apart from the Budget 2017-18, Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill, Parliament also passed the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill aimed at introducing a uniform indirect tax regime across the country.
A total of 24 bills were introduced during the session. Of these, the Lok Sabha passed 23 bills, while the Rajya Sabha passed 14. A total of 18 bills were passed by both the houses.
The session commenced on January 31, a first in the history of Indian Parliament. It went into recess for 27 days from February 10, and was reconvened on March 9. In all, both houses of Parliament held 29 sittings each during the session.
“This Budget session has been very fruitful… in the last 70 years. This is for the first time in Indian legislative history that all financial business of government has been completed before the start of the next financial year, and that too by following the due process of general discussion and scrutiny by Standing Committees,” Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.
He said the Union Budget 2017-18 has already come into effect from April 1, which is “unprecedented”.
The Finance Bill led to sparks in the Rajya Sabha as the opposition accused the Centre of misusing the money bill route to amend laws in order to bypass the upper house. It made certain recommendations to the Finance Bill, which were rejected by the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha’s productivity turned out to be 113 per cent while that of the Rajya Sabha was 92 per cent.
While the Lok Sabha lost around eight hours to interruptions, the Rajya Sabha lost 18 hours.
The lower house worked 19 hours extra while the upper house worked seven extra hours to make up for the loss.
Some of the important bills passed by both the houses include the four GST Bills, Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, Mental Healthcare Bill and the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill.
The government also got the contentious Enemy Property Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha — where it is not in majority — albeit in the absence of a majority of opposition members and a walkout by remaining few in protest before the bill was passed. The government had brought the bill on a Friday when the attendance is usually thin in the Rajya Sabha.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister appreciated the cooperation extended by the opposition in the transaction of legislative business, but blamed the Congress for stalling a bill for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.
Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chair Hamid Ansari, in his valedictory remarks, appreciated the members’ enthusiasm in participating in the house proceedings, especially those from the last two rows.
“The participation of the members occupying the last two rows is remarkable. Out of a total of 205 Zero Hour submissions, they raised 86 — approximately 42 per cent,” Ansari said.
“The members’ zeal to raise matters of urgent public importance with concern and passion is manifested in the 205 Zero Hour submissions and 76 Special Mentions made and in the 435 Starred Questions with more than 535 Supplementaries and 4,629 Unstarred Questions raised by them,” he said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan too expressed pleasure over the smooth conduct of the session and hailed it as “very fruitful and productive”.
“All processes related to the Budget, related to tax or expenditure, have been completed before the end of this financial year. This gave the government departments an opportunity to spend on public welfare works,” she said.
During the Winter Session in 2016, which saw a complete washout in the wake of the November 8 demonetisation, the Chairs had expressed deep displeasure over the stalling of the two houses by their respective members.