Disapproval Resolution to Test Govt in RS
Money Bill to replace note extinguisher ordinance may face procedural hindrance in Upper House where combined Opposition is in majority Congress MP TS Reddy has sought time to move a resolution “seeking disapproval” of the ordinance itself
New Delhi: The government is up against an unexpected hurdle in the Rajya Sabha on the bill for scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes. While the ordinance promulgated for extinguishing the notes was replaced by the Specified Bank Notes Bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the Opposition is set to exploit a procedural opening to derail the government’s efforts in the Rajya Sabha.
Onthefaceof it,theRSshouldhave no role because the legislation was introducedintheLSasaMoneyBill. This means that once passed in LS, all that’s needed is for it to be introducedintheRSandintwoweeksitis deemed approved even if the House doesn’t pass the bill.
But the twist in the tale came at t h e Raj ya S a b h a Busi n e s s Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, where Congress MP T Subbarami Reddy sought time to move a resolution “seeking disapproval” of the ordinance itself. The BAC has accepted this after his party backed him along with other Opposition members. This is likely to be taken up together with government’s bill slated for Thursday.
The problem is that if the resolution is passed “disapproving” the ordinance by a united opposition in the RS, then the replacement bill cannot be introduced even if it’s a Money Bill. The government can bring a new bill but this would be tricky as Parliament goes on a month-long recess after Thursday. If the ordinance is disapproved and no new law passed, the demonetised currency notes would regain validity for at least a month, till Parliament reconvenes again.
In 1991, an ordinance related to the Code of Criminal Procedure was disapproved by the Rajya Sabha, similarly, after the chairman’s casting vote broke the tie in favour of the ‘disapproval’. As a result, the bill replacing the ordinance was never taken up.
In this case, the government has the option of deferring the RS process until the recess and use the intervening period to muster numbers from smaller parties or even get a new bill. The problem, however, is that demonetisation ordinance lapses on March 13 and Parliament reconvenes on March 9, a Thursday, leaving just a couple of working days to push the bill through.
By then, the results of this round of assembly polls will be out, which might generate its own dynamics in Parliament. A possible bipartisan reach-out or an appeal to the Opposition is another alternative but that has its own downsides during elections, an insider said.