Free Press Journal

Opposition objects to ‘identical’ insurance bill in Rajya Sabha


New Delhi: Contending that an identical bill is pending with the house, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha questioned the tabling of a bill to allow 49 percent FDI in insurance sector, even as Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien noted that there was no rule preventing the government from doing so.

The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha and seeks to replace an ordinance, was tabled in the upper house. As soon as the bill was tabled, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader P. Rajeeve said a select committee of the upper house has already given a report on an older version of the bill and the new bill that has been brought is identical in nature.

“If we take up the bill, what happens to the select committee report? Are we ready to dilute the powers of the council of states,” he asked. Kurien, however, ruled that there was nothing in the rule book or the constitution that could prevent the government from bringing the bill but added that the situation was “unprecedented”.

“Going through procedure of the constitution, I have come to conclusion though it may be unusual and unprecedented… one bill is our property, other sent by the other house… this is certainly unusual but there is no constitutional provision or rule which prohibits the listing of a bill passed by the Lok Sabha in the Rajya Sabha, even if it is substantially identical to a bill already pending as long as it meets the requirement set out in the constitution and rules of procedure,” he said.

“The insurance bill has been listed today… house has procedural options open to it. The house can allow the bill to be withdrawn, can reject, or pass it. You are supreme… you can take decision,” he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also said that the bill should be taken up as the ordinance was brought because the bill could not be passed in the previous session.

When the opposition members remained unconvinced and continued with their objections, the chairman adjourned the house briefly for ten minutes — and subsequently for half an hour.