The onus of seeking a vote in both Houses of Parliament against the amendments made by the government to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules, which enabled it to implement FDI in retail, is on the opposition and not on the government, relevant rules show.
A close look at rules shows that it is for the opposition to move motions opposing these amendments within 30 days and defeat the government in both Houses, if they want to stall the decision to allow FDI in retail sector.
The government tabled five amendments in the Lok Sabha on Friday, notified by the Reserve Bank of India on October 15 following a direction from the Supreme Court on which the opposition parties want it to seek approval from both Houses.
Section 48 of FEMA, however, states: “Every rule and regulation made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament, while it is in session for a total period of 30 days, which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions.”
The government’s view is that the approval of FEMA amendments by the Lok Sabha alone would be sufficient, where it has the numbers and there is no need to seek the Rajya Sabha’s nod.
Senior officials of Parliament, however, say the government’s role is merely confined to tabling the changes in FEMA rules notified by the RBI, and then wait for 30 days to see whether any member of Parliament (MP) opposes them and seeks voting.
“Rules clearly stipulate that both Houses have to agree on changes sought by any MP or party. Therefore, even if opposition parties’ motion against FEMA amendments is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will have no bearing on the government’s executive decision,” said a senior official.
The Left, which first raised the issue, have made it clear that they would seek voting on these amendments. “The issue does not end with voting in Parliament on motions against FDI in both Houses. The government should get ready for another round of voting on FEMA amendments,” the CPM-led Front said.