Last day of Budget
Session in Parliament: At 112%, Lok Sabha's productivity trumps
April 12, 2017
The second and the
last half of the Budget Session of Parliament, which concludes
on Wednesday, has turned out to be a largely productive one,
working in favour of the NDA government. The first part of the
session, 31 January to 9 February, was washed out after the
Opposition cried foul over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
Since the Budget Session resumed on 9 March, following a month
long recess, many key Bills were introduced and passed – the
Finance Bill, 2017, The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, four
bills related to implementation of the goods and services tax (GST),
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, The
Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Maternity Benefit
(Amendment) Bill, 2016.
With a total of 12 bills passed during the second half,
productivity for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, as of Monday, was
112 percent and 87 percent respectively (according to data by
PRS Legislative Research).
Both the Houses functioned efficiently despite many tussles
between the Opposition and the government over issues like the
Ramjas College row, racial attacks on Indians in US and
Australia, linking of Aadhar to welfare benefits and I-T
returns, allegations of electronic voting machines (EVMs)
tampering, among others.
Here are some of the key bills passed during the Budget session:
Four GST bills
Parliament passed four legislations to pave the way for the roll
out of the historic GST, set for the target date of 1 July.
The Central GST Bill, 2017; The Integrated GST Bill, 2017; The
GST (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017; and The Union Territory
GST Bill, 2017 were returned by the Rajya Sabha after negation
of a host of amendments moved by the Opposition parties. The Lok
Sabha had passed these bills on 29 March.
All the states will now have to pass the States GST Bill after
which the new indirect tax regime can be rolled out. The rates
are to be discussed by the GST Council on 18-19 May.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that once the new
regime is implemented, the harassment of businesses by different
authorities will end and India will be have one rate for one
commodity throughout the country.
Finance Bill of
The controversial bill was introduced as a money bill in the Lok
Sabha (where BJP hold majority) which meant that it could be
passed without a nod from the Rajya Sabha – Upper House can only
suggest changes to a money bill and cannot meddle with the final
decision of Lok Sabha.
The bill was fiercely opposed by the opposition and contains
some controversial elements:
- The Centre included amendments to the Income Tax Act, giving
more power to tax officials. This gives the I-T department the
right to conduct a raid without disclosing the reasons behind
- Another controversial element of the bill allows for unlimited
and anonymous corporate funding for political parties. The move
was seen in stark contrast to the demonetisation drive, which
was packaged as an attack on black money, as it allowed for
undisclosed contributions. Donations from foreign entities too
will not be disclosed.
- Another amendment saw a merger of various tribunals which
examine appeals of regulatory decisions. This gives the
government arbitrary control over the tribunal as it can now
oversee appointment, removal of its members.
- The bill also made Aadhar mandatory for applying for a PAN
card or for filing I-T returns.
The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013
Parliament passed a bill that seeks to decriminalise suicide
attempts by mentally ill people and provides for the right to
better healthcare for people suffering from mental illness.
The bill says that any person who attempts to commit suicide
shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to be suffering from
mental illness at the time of attempting suicide and shall not
be liable to punishment under section 309 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As of now, a person who attempts to commit suicide is charged
under section 309 of IPC as it is considered to be an offence.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016
Rajya Sabha passed a Bill to amend a 49-year-old law to guard
against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by
people who migrated to Pakistan and China, amid a walkout by the
This bill states that successors of those who migrated to
Pakistan and China during partition will have no claim over the
properties left behind in India.
The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017
A bill, under which specified industrial units will have to pay
salaries and wages to workers only either through cheques or by
electronic transfer to their bank accounts, was passed by the
The bill enables the Centre and states to specify the industries
which will come under the ambit of the new provision.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to
paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks, as
Parliament passed a bill in this regard that will benefit about
1.8 million women.
The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or
more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two
children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12
Here are some key moments from the session:
P Chidambaram vs Arun Jaitley on Aadhar
The issue of privacy and data security around Aadhar was brought
to the fore when former finance minister Chidambaram engaged in
a healthy debate with his current counterpart in Jaitley.
Chidambaram questioned the efficacy of linking Aadhar to welfare
benefits and I-T returns by questioning the safety of the move.
He quoted examples of data hacks and leaks in the Pentagon,
putting the move under scrutiny. Jaitley defended the move,
saying that the fact that technology can be broken into can
never be used as an argument against advancing technology.
Warm welcome for Sushma Swaraj’s 'powerful voice'
When External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made her first
public appearance in over three months, after she underwent a
kidney transplant in early December, she was welcomed by House
speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who greeted her by saying that it was
good to hear her 'powerful voice' again.
Budget session a
winner for Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the Budget Session
was a “winner” for his government as it could secure the passage
of many bills, including the key GST legislations.
The Prime Minister said a “positive” public mood in favour of
the Centre’s ruling dispensation pervaded the country as its
completes three years in office next month and pitched for a
harder push to the reforms and development agenda.
“This is a golden opportunity for us to lift the lives of the
poor, the deprived... This is the time for doing more
development and reforms,” he said.
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