With both Houses of Parliament disrupted continuously, the government has decided to push legislative business amid the chaos from Tuesday. Even as the government introduced two Bills — the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill and the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill on Monday — the ruling party has issued a whip for its Lok Sabha members for three days.
BJP sources said the government has decided to push its crucial financial business, including passage of the Finance Bill, in the coming days. The party has issued a three-line whip for its members to be present in the lower house on March 13, 14 and 15.
“There is no breakthrough in the stalemate. The government has been talking to all parties but there is no sign of relief. But we have to conduct business,” a senior BJP leader said. The proceedings were adjourned abruptly for the sixth consecutive day on Monday as members of various parties — TDP, YSR Congress, TRS, AIADMK and TMC — were in the centre of the House, raising slogans and placards.
The second half of the Budget Session resumed on March 5 and has been a complete washout so far. While the Congress is on disagreement with the government over the provision under which the House should debate banking irregularities, including the PNB scam, parties from Andhra Pradesh are seeking special status for financial support for their state. The TRS members are seeking enhanced reservation in Telangana, while AIADMK is pressing for constitution of the Cauvery river board to settle Tamil Nadu’s water dispute with neighbours.
When Lok Sabha met after an hour’s break at noon, the government tabled the Bill seeking to confiscate all assets of absconding fraudsters and loan defaulters for recovering dues from them. Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla moved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 despite objections raised by BJD MP Bhratruhari Mehtab. Mehtab argued that provisions in the Bill violate fundamental rights of a citizen. “…You cannot restrain a person from going to the court of law to get justice. This Bill restrains the person to go to a court of law,” Mehtab said.
However, the minister tabled the Bill, which is said to be aimed at impounding and sell assets of fugitives. This assumes significance as the government is facing flak over Nirav Modi, who is alleged to be behind the nearly Rs 12,700 crore fraud at PNB. The law will apply to defaulters who have an outstanding of Rs 100 crore or more and have escaped from the country.
Shukla also moved the Chit Funds Amendment Bill to streamline and strengthen the chit fund sector, mandating videoconferencing while the opening of bids and seeks to hike commission of foremen from 5 per cent to 7 per cent. The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Advisory Groups on Chit Funds set up by the Centre.