Disappointed with the way the government turned the undisclosed foreign income bill into a money bill, Opposition leaders of the Rajya Sabha got together on Friday morning to discuss how to propel a mechanism to check the use of the money bill tag to pass legislation.
The informal meeting over tea, in Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari’s chamber, saw many leaders suggest that the Upper House form a panel to look into the issue.
However, to avoid any possibility of confrontation with the Lok Sabha, particularly between the presiding heads of the two Houses, some Upper House members said that the panel should formally request the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to consider laying down an elaborate framework of rules to decide if a particular bill would be considered a money bill or not.
While the Constitution of India has laid down the specific criteria under Article 110 in the Part V of the Constitution, it has also said, “If any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the speaker of the House of the People (Lok Sabha) thereon shall be final.” The Constitution has stipulated that any bill related to imposition or regulation of taxes, borrowing of money or financial obligation of the Government of India or payments related to the Consolidated Fund would be considered a money bill.
“We are not seeking an amendment to the Constitution. But we may appeal to the Speaker if she would like to consider such parameters,” said an Opposition leader.
SP’s Ramgopal Yadav, Congress’ Anand Sharma, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brian, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra and CPI(M)’s TK Rangarajan were present at the informal gathering. Ansari too, was there.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Can we not suggest to the honourable Speaker that there should be some criteria for deciding whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not?”
Many said the “liberal interpretation” of the Constitutional provisions was made in this particular case when the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets and Imposition of Tax Bill, 2015, was declared as a money bill.
While the bill was passed by both the Houses of parliament in the just-concluded budget session, many parties were opposed to it.