Parliament logjam continues; Lok Sabha passes tax amendment bill (Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The logjam in both houses of Parliament continued for the ninth consecutive day on Tuesday over demonetisation, as the Lok Sabha passed amid opposition protest an income tax amendment bill to facilitate levy of 60 per cent tax on undisclosed income.

While opposition members in the Rajya Sabha insisted on Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s presence, the opposition in the Lok Sabha stuck to its demand for a discussion under the rule governing an adjournment motion which entails voting.

In the Lok Sabha, the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed as the opposition protested and raised slogans against the government.

According to the Bill, 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 income), resulting in a total tax component of 75 per cent.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while moving the bill for consideration and passing, called it one of the steps by the Centre to curb black money.

However, the opposition members insisted that the lower house first take up a debate on demonetisation under the rule pertaining to an adjournment motion, and the bill be taken up thereafter.

Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha was disrupted repeatedly as opposition members created ruckus over the fiscal chaos following the November 8 demonetisation.

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

The scene was no different post lunch and the house was adjourned till 2.30 p.m.

At 2.30 p.m., as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the Income Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 for consideration and passing, opposition members objected.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the debate on demonetisation should be taken up first.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay suggested clubbing debate on the bill and demonetisation together, which the Speaker denied.

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

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

As opposition members protested, Mahajan said the bill should have been debated but since the house was not in order it could not be.

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

The Rajya Sabha too saw quick adjournments as the opposition insisted on the presence of Modi, alleging the upper house was sought to be bypassed.

As the upper house met at 11 a.m., Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati demanded Modi’s presence. Amid the ruckus and loud protests, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till noon.

When the house met at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari called for the Question Hour but one of the opposition members tried to raise a point of order which the Chair disallowed.

Thereafter, the opposition started raising slogans such as ‘Pradhan Mantri sadan mein aao (Prime Minister come to the house)”. The treasury benches countered it with slogans in Modi’s favour.

The opposition members trooped near the Chairman’s podium, raising slogans against Modi. Amid the ruckus, the Chairman adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

When the House reassembled at 2 p.m., Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal said the Rajya Sabha’s importance was being undermined by the government as it was changing the nature of bills to avoid the need for the upper house’s nod.

“An MP has commented on the social media, asking people if there is need for the Rajya Sabha,” he said, adding it was a major disregard to the upper house.

“The government has turned many bills into money bills, which is not a good practice,” Agrawal said.

Agrawal demanded the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of amending the Constitution’s Article 110 “to ensure honour of the house”.

His party colleague Ram Gopal Yadav and some Congress members supported him as Yadav said that “rights of the Rajya Sabha cannot be given to the Lok Sabha”.

“Importance of the Rajya Sabha must not be undermined,” he said.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said the Constitution is very clear on what the money bill is and what is not.

But this did not satisfy the opposition members and they commenced shouting slogans against Modi. Amid the ruckus, the house was adjourned for the day.

–IANS

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