Fema matter may have to be resolved by SC

Nagendar Sharma

New Delhi, Dec. 6 -- With the government and opposition sticking to their respective interpretations on whether both Houses of parliament need to approve amendments in the Foreign Exchange Management (Fema) rules to enable implementation of FDI in multi-brand retail, the matter may have to be finally settled by the Supreme Court.

The defeat of the motion moved by Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, seeking rejection of amendments made by the government in Fema rules, may have provided the government immediate relief, but the controversy is far from over.

The opposition parties desisted from directly criticising Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar's decision to admit Roy's motion against Fema amendments, but made it clear that they would impress upon the Rajya Sabha chairman to wait for a mandatory 30-day period before taking up the issue for discussion in the Upper House.

The issue at the centre of the controversy is Section 48 of Fema which provides for rules and regulations made under the act to be tabled in both Houses of parliament.

The government was directed by the Supreme Court on October 15 to carry out the necessary amendments in rules and get them notified by the Reserve Bank of India, during the hearing of a petition on the issue.

The petitioner, Manohar Lal Sharma, had alleged that government had allowed foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail without making necessary changes in law and it was trying to bypass the parliament.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati had assured the top court on behalf of the government that all rules and regulations will be followed. The apex court had remarked that policy making was the domain of the government, "but the executive must hear the voice of the legislature."

The next hearing in the Supreme Court is scheduled on January 22 next year.

The government appears to have settled the issue in the Lok Sabha, but Meira Kumar made it clear on Tuesday that MPs still have a right to move objections to FEMA amendments, till 30 working days beginning November 30.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.