Parliament Passes Finance Bill Rejecting RS Amendments

  • Parliament passes Finance Bill 2017
  • All amendements recommended by the Rajya Sabha were rejected by the Lower House
  • Finance Bill 2017 was returned by the Rajya Sabha with 5 amendments on Wednesday
  • Congress’ Digvijay Singh and CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury had moved the amendments

Parliament on Thursday passed the Finance Bill 2017 after the Lok Sabha rejected all five amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier, defending the draft of the Finance Bill he had introduced on Monday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “I am against the amendments of Rajya Sabha."

As per the provisions of Article 109 of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha has limited powers with respect to draft legislations that are tagged by the government as Money Bills. The Lok Sabha is free to either accept or reject all or any of its recommendations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

The upper house discussed the bill for over five hours spread across two days with the Congress and other opposition parties taking exception to several provisions of the Finance Bill, stating that the government had sought to amend 40 laws in one go.

During discussion on the Bill, the opposition accused the government of "smuggling in" provisions to bypass the Rajya Sabha as the upper house has limited powers on Money Bills.

Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda raised the issue of the amendment that gives Income Tax officers right to search a premise without citing a reason.

On the electoral funding reforms brought by the government, Hooda said electoral bonds will only increase opacity in funding.

He also said reducing limit for anonymous donation to Rs 2,000 will not make much difference, and only increase the work for chartered accountants.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday brought the Finance Bill 2017 with the new amendments back to the Lok Sabha. Upon reintroduction of the bill in the lower house, Congress MP Deepender Hooda questioned the NDA government over the nature of the bill and the controversial amendments brought in by the Finance Minister on Monday.

The government tried to bring 40 amendments through the Finance Bill. We want separate legislations.

Raising objections over the non transparent nature of the amendment brought in for donations to political parties, he said:

Deepender Hooda, MP, CongressWe demand the introduction of a new “Transparency in Political Funding Bill”. We’re not doubting the intention but questioning the manner.

The Indian parliament building in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

Lok Sabha on Thursday will debate the Finance Bill 2017 after it was returned with five amendments by the Upper House which has discussed the Bill for over five hours spread across two days.

In an attempt to check the progress of the Finance Bill 2017, the opposition on Wednesday had brought its own amendments to the much-debated bill.

The Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, was moved in the Rajya Sabha on 27 March after the government moved more than 40 amendments to the original Bill, some of which amend a number of corresponding legislations, with opposition accusing the government of sneaking in non-finance matters through the Finance Bill, over which the Upper House has no powers.

Congress' Digvijay Singh had moved amendments to three clauses of the Bill, which seek to amend Sections 132, 132(A) and 133 of the Income Tax Act. The amendments by Digvijay Singh were adopted after division of votes gave a clear 'ayes' to the opposition.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury also moved two amendments to the government Bill which were also adopted after division of votes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: Reuters)

The Narendra Modi government on Wednesday faced embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha as five of the amendments moved by the opposition to the Finance Bill, 2017, were adopted by division before the bill was returned to the Lok Sabha.

During discussion on the Bill, the opposition accused the government of "smuggling in" provisions to bypass the Rajya Sabha as the upper house has limited powers on money bills.

Congress member Kabil Sibal, who initiated the debate on the Bill, said that some provisions in the bill tend to weaken the federal structure of the country, will allow the government to snoop on citizens and instill fear among the business community.

Sibal also said the bill gives "unbridled powers" to the taxman and he can conduct "search and seizure" at any premises without assigning any reason for the same to a superior authority.

Yechury strongly objected to the provision in the Bill about use of Aadhaar for filing income tax returns (ITR).