The sudden death of sitting Lok Sabha member E Ahamed on Wednesday has created a situation where the Union budget presentation is caught between the rule book and Opposition’s pressure.
The House gets adjourned if a sitting member passes away. In this case, “the member died while performing his duty as MP. He was in the Central Hall listening to the President’s speech when he collapsed,” said Md. Salim, CPI(M) leader, demanding that the budget be rescheduled.
But senior officials in the Lok Sabha speaker’s office told HT that adjournment due to demise of a sitting member is only “a convention and not a rule, which has to be strictly followed.”
Finance minister Arun Jaitley is set to place the budget at 11 am in Lok Sabha. He will later present the budget in Rajya Sabha.
“Earlier, even if former members died, the House would be adjourned for the day as a mark of respect. But when Somnath Chatterjee became the speaker, he decided that only if a sitting member dies, the day’s business will be closed,” said a senior official.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee told HT, “The members will have to decide what they want to do. Budget is a very solemn occasion but as a mark of respect to a very senior member of the House, there is no problem if it is presented on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Let the speaker decide.”
According to Chatterjee and Lok Sabha officials, this is the first time when a member has passed away on the day of the budget.
Lok Sabha officials also point out that since there is no rule on obituary reference, the budget can be placed and then the House can be adjourned.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan told HT, “This is a constitutional requirement. Since there are no rules, the budget can be placed and the House can be adjourned on an obituary reference on Ahamed.”
The presentation of the budget has already led to confrontation between the Opposition and the government. The Opposition even went to the Election Commission to stop the Modi administration from presenting an early budget as polls are due in five states, including Uttar Pradesh.