Government passed the Finance Bill, 2017 using the Money Bill route

On 22 March 2017 the government managed to pass The Finance Bill, 2017 with little or no opposition thanks to its introduction as a Money Bill. Members in Parliament opposed the introduction of the Bill. On Tuesday, after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Bill, N.K. Premachandran of the RSP objected to the Bill as he said many amendments in the Bill did not fall under the purview of taxation, which is what a money Bill is supposed to be about.
This is not the first time this government has taken the Money Bill route to pass a controversial law. The NDA government chose to introduce the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 as a Money Bill.

  

What is a Money Bill?

Under article 110(1) of the Constitution, a Bill is deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters, namely:
  • The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
  • the regulation of the borrowing of money or the giving of any guarantee by the Government of India, or the amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations undertaken or to be undertaken by the Government of India;
  • The custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of money into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund;
  • The appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  • The declaring of any expenditure to be expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or the increasing of the amount of any such expenditure;
  • the receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a State; or
  • Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f).


Another grievance of the RSP MP, supported by Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, was that the amendments were not circulated to MPs, thus not giving them enough time to study the Bill. “Just now we have received the list of amendments. 40 existing Acts are proposed to be amended by means of this Finance Bill. When the original Bill was presented on 1st February 2017, only 8 to 10 Acts were proposed to be amended, he said.”
But Mr Jaitley contended that “it is much ado about nothing that you say 40 laws are being amended. The Minister went on to quote a ruling by the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, G.V. Mavalankar on the word ‘only.’
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled in favour of the Minister saying that parliamentary rules do not rule out the possibility of inclusion on non-taxation proposals in a Money Bill. “I have accepted this. The Finance Bill may contain non-taxation proposals also. Now another thing is no doubt every effort should be made to separate taxation measures from other matters.”

At the end of the day, after so many pros and cons, the government did manage to pass the Finance Bill, 2017.

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