Opposition objects to increasing use of Money Bills

The Hindu Business Line, May 13, 2015

Opposition parties have decided to approach President Pranab Mukherjee demanding his intervention against the Centre?s strategy of ?increasing? the number of Money Bills.

The Upper House?s assent is not required for the passage of a Money Bill. According to articles 108, 109, 110, 111 and 117 of the Constitution, if the Rajya Sabha does not return a Money Bill within the prescribed period of 14 days, the Bill is deemed to have been passed.

The Government has been changing the status of Bills to Money Bills to get them passed. The Opposition has already taken up the issue with Rajya Sabha Chairman, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, and argued that attempts are being made to undermine the Upper House. The Narendra Modi-led Government is in a minority in the Upper House.

Need for criteria

The Government has been arguing that if there are questions over whether a Bill is a Money Bill, the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker will be final.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the leaders of various parties in the Upper House also discussed requesting the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to put in place a criterion for whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not.

Confirming this, CPI (M) General-Secretary Sitaram Yechury told BusinessLine that the matter would not end in the Rajya Sabha, but would be brought to the attention of the President and of the public.

?We will demand his interference,? Yechury said.

Later, elders in the Opposition, just ahead of taking the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Bill, 2015, which is also being brought as a Money Bill, urged the Government to desist from this practice.

They demanded a ruling from Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who said the matter is with the Chairman.

Rajya Sabha undermined

The discussion in the leaders? meeting was based on a letter submitted by senior CPI(M) MP KN Balagopal saying that the Rajya Sabha was being undermined by the Government by attempting to pass off any legislation that deals or relates to finances as a Money Bill.

?The Finance Bill returned by the Rajya Sabha last week carries certain amendments to some independent Acts passed in earlier years. These Acts would have been amended through an independent process other than including them in the Finance Bill,? he argued in the letter.

?The Upper House should not be helpless. This House also has been constituted under the Constitution of India, and has got its own independent powers as the Council of States,? the letter said.

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