In an unprecedented move, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar ordered a re-vote on a Constitution amendment bill that seeks to make the right to form cooperative societies a fundamental right as confusion prevailed among the members on the voting process.
Trouble started when CPM’s A Sampath moved an amendment to the Constitution (One Hundred and Eleventh) Amendment (Insertion of new article 43B) Bill.
His amendment to clause 2 of the bill was rejected and the Speaker put the clause to vote. As many as 276 members voted — 235 in favour of clause 2 and 35 against. There was confusion among members over the status of clause 2 and many felt that Sampath’s amendments were carried.
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar conveyed to the Lok Sabha secretariat officials that a large number of members favoured that the voting be carried out again. Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also requested the Speaker to call for a division again as there was confusion among members.
Rule books were consulted. The rules of procedure state that each clause of a bill seeking to amend the Constitution has to be put to vote separately and be passed by a majority of the total membership of the house and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
After series of consultations, the Speaker said she would take the sense of the house on whether a division could be carried out again. A majority of the members favoured a re-vote.
The Speaker later ruled that she was ordering a division again as a special case and this should not be quoted as a precedent. The second division on clause 2 saw 369 members voting in favour and 16 against.
The bill was finally passed with 394 members voting in favour and one abstaining.