August 25, 2015 4:56:47 am
The Government is likely to take a call tomorrow on the possibility of a special session of Parliament to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. “It is going to be an informal meeting with the likelihood of Prime Minister also being present,” sources said.
Sources in the Congress, Left parties and the Janata Dal (United) said there had been no such feelers from the government so far. They said the current atmosphere — thick with attacks and counter-attacks — was hardly conducive for such a session. More so, when NDA leaders are out, campaigning against Congress and Left members of the Lok Sabha in their constituencies.
Though it’s the privilege of the government to call a session, a unilateral move doesn’t help. For, the GST Bill, being a Constitutional amendment, has to meet two requirements for passage: presence of at least a majority of members and two-thirds of them voting in its favour in each House. And, for voting to take place, the House has to be in order, too. The Government cannot get a Rajya Sabha endorsement unless it’s able to mobilise support from a section outside the ruling coalition.
If the Government doesn’t opt for a special session, tomorrow’s meeting could serve as a prelude to proroguing the Parliament. The Government stopped short of doing this when the monsoon session of Parliament concluded on August 13. It only got the two Houses adjourned sine die to keep open the option of calling a special session — technically a continuation of the last session. But the Land Acquisition Ordinance, issued for the third time last month, expires on August 31.
If the Government plans re-issuing it for the fourth time, it has to prorogue Parliament, or, at least, one of the two Houses. While an ordinance has a life of six months, it has to be approved by Parliament within six weeks of the commencement of the session which follows its promulgation. An ordinance cannot be re-promulgated while Parliament is in session.
The Government wants to roll out the GST from April 2016. It had, therefore, moved the GST Bill for consideration in the Rajya Sabha during the last session. However, a discussion on it was blocked by the Congress.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today that the GST Bill will soon see the light of day. He said the Revenue Department was getting ready with three Bills to ensure its implementation. Jaitley described the GST as a monumental tax reform and said it would benefit all segments of business, increase the tax-base and reduce harassment of taxpayers.
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