New Delhi, (IANS) The high-decibel debate on AgustaWestland chopper scam and acrimonious scenes over political developments in Uttarakhand, punctuated with allegations and counter-allegations, dominated the proceedings in both houses of parliament during the Budget Session-Part II that concluded on Friday.
The Lok Sabha proceedings ended on Wednesday — two days ahead of schedule.
Notwithstanding the bitterness over the chopper deal debate and developments concerning Uttarakhand, and other issues like an adverse CAG report on Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation when Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, the parliament session saw the successful passage of several key bills.
The eighth session of the 16th Lok Sabha passed important legislations, including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which is being described as one key reform step and a game-changer in terms of tracking black money.
This key bill later got the nod from the Rajya Sabha too.
In the Rajya Sabha, too, despite differences and occasional disruptions over Uttarakhand and AgustaWestland, a bill was passed on May 11 to upgrade the Rajendra Agricultural University in Bihar into a central university. In a record of sorts, the bill was also passed by the Lok Sabha on the same day.
In the midst of a fierce legal battle over imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, Congress members in the Rajya Sabha resisted according approval to the state budget — which Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called a “constitutional necessity”.
The hill state was under President’s Rule since March 27 and the Centre had issued an ordinance on March 31 to ensure that the state’s expenditures in the new financial year had legal sanction.
After winning the trial of strength in the assembly mandated by the Supreme Court, the Harish Rawat-led Congress ministry was back in Uttarakhand.
Among the bills passed by the Rajya Sabha during the session were the Finance Bill 2016, The Appropriation (No 2) Bill 2016, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 and The Indian Trusts (Amendment) Bill 2015.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday pointed out that it would have been good if the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and the one seeking to unlock Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds were also passed during the session.
“Had we decided on CAMPA Bill in this session, states would have got Rs.42,000 crore. That would be Rs.2,000 crore to Rs.3,000 crore per state,” the prime minister said.
He said similarly the states would have benefited if the much-awaited GST Bill was also passed.
The 8th session of the 16th Lok Sabha also created history of sorts when the business of the lower house could be carried out without any adjournment due to interruptions.
“This is making of a history,” a senior Lok Sabha official told IANS here, adding that such smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha proceedings was most recently recorded almost 25 years ago — in 1990 during the stint of Rabi Ray as Speaker; and in 1992 when Shivraj Patil was presiding over the lower house.
During the session, which concluded on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha also recorded 120 percent work during its 13 sittings spread over 92 hours 21 minutes.
On the last day of the session in the Rajya Sabha, in his concluding remarks on various retiring members, Finance Minister Jaitley, who is also Leader of the House, sought to revive the debate about contests of powers and authorities of the two houses.
He preferred the supremacy of parliament in general and the Lok Sabha in particular in two fundamental duties of governance — of “law making and budget making”.
Any dilution of these powers could result in compromising the future of parliamentary democracy and even democracy, he said.
Jaitley also said that such a debate over the powers between two houses of parliament was going on in many other countries, including Italy and Australia.
Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari thanked the members for their participation in lively debate and said members have contributed their part “amid political compulsions and ideological differences”.