Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday welcomed a debate on the rising prices which, he said, was not a government failure and could be discussed but not voted on.
Unless the central government "fails to discharge its duties enjoined by the constitution of the law", the matter could not be discussed under the adjournment motion, which entails voting, Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha.
Intervening on the debate on whether the house should allow the adjournment notices moved by the opposition, he said: "My limited point is that I have some reservations about admitting this motion as adjournment."
Quoting rules, he said the issue to be discussed under the adjournment motion has "to be definite, and it must be related to the functioning of the government".
He said the decision-makers were not taking any "sadistic pleasure" from hiking fuel prices. "There are certain compulsions. I had certain compulsions. Rates of crude oil in the international market have gone up. There has not been any failure of the government."
Mukherjee, who is the leader of the house, however, welcomed a debate on the rising prices. "All aspects of the issue will be debated with remedial measures. If opposition members have constructive measures (to suggest) I will welcome that."
"We will like to discuss the issue. I have no problem in having a discussion. The government welcomes that but this cannot be discussed under adjournment motion," he stressed.
Speaker Meira Kumar had earlier allowed MPs to debate on whether the house should allow the adjournment notices that opposition members see as an instrument of censure against the government's policies.
After a brief commotion and protests by a united opposition, the speaker said she was allowing the members who had given her adjournment notices to speak under "special circumstances".
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj was the first to justify her notice, saying "it was cent percent according to the house rules".
"The adjournment motion that entails voting means stopping all other businesses, and discuss an issue of urgent importance that has occurred recently. The notice I have given has raised has two points… recent hikes in (the prices of ) kerosene and the cooking gas," Swaraj said.
The June 26 fuel price hike has put poor men of the country into "grave hardships", she said. "This needs urgent attention and calls for stalling all other business to be discussed on top priority."
She said the opposition wants to "censure" the government over its wrong pricing policies. "This is a censure motion. This is to censure the government. The government won't fall. But we definitely want to censure this government because they are troubling the common man."
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh said the opposition was "expressing the sentiments of the people as 85-90 percent of the population are suffering due to rising prices".
"People are dying due to starvation," he said, supporting the adjournment motion.
Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) said the opposition didn't want the government to fall. "We want to stop rising prices. We want to jolt the government out of a slumber."
Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) said there was no dispute within the opposition over the price rise issue. "We are united and want the government to take corrective measures."
After listening to the viewpoints of the opposition and the government, the speaker adjourned the house till 2 p.m.
She will announce her decision on whether the issue calls for an adjournment motion that entails voting in the post-lunch session.