Even as political tensions are peaking in the run-up to next year’s general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought cooperation from Opposition parties for the smooth functioning of the monsoon session of Parliament. In all, the House will consider for passage 43 Bills including amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to recognise home-buyers as financial creditors and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill that seeks to make it easier to attach assets of offenders fleeing the country to escape the reach of the law even before conviction.
The government has to get Parliament’s approval for both the Bills, provisions of which are already in force thanks to ordinances issued.
The last (Budget) session was the least productive in terms of legislative outcome in 18 years due to continuous disruptions over multiple issues (even as a notice for a no-confidence motion was given by the some Opposition parties) including the clamour for special-category state status for Andhra Pradesh and the Cauvery water dispute.
The monsoon session, which commences on Wednesday and concludes on August 10, will have 18 sittings. With PJ Kurien’s term ending at the end of this month, the election to choose the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha will also be a key order of business.
Addressing a meeting of leaders of various parties in Parliament House on Tuesday, Modi expressed the hope that political parties would raise issues of public importance in the larger interest of the country. During the meeting, Opposition parties raised a number of issues including the need for bringing a new law to deal with lynchings, as per the directive of the Supreme Court.
The IBC is being amended to also allow promoters of MSMEs to bid for their stressed firms if they are not wilful defaulters and withdrawal of a case after admission by the adjudicating authority, but not without the approval of 90% of creditors. To encourage resolution rather than liquidation, the voting threshold for approving a resolution plan has been trimmed to 66% from 75% earlier. For routine decisions, the voting threshold is fixed at 51%.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12 this year.
In a pro-business move, the government has proposed several amendments to goods and services tax (GST) laws such as restricting GST liability under reverse charge basis on procurements from unregistered vendors to specified class of registered persons to be notified by the GST Council and allowing businesses to have separate registration for each place of business in a state.
Among the key pending Bills that will be taken up in the monsoon session is the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, that requires investigating agencies to get prior sanction of the appropriate authority in the government to investigate officials including retired ones. Three Bills are listed for withdrawal. The National Commission for Medical Education Bill to overhaul medical education is also listed for passage.
The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Ordinance brings down the specified value of a commercial dispute to `3 lakh from the present `1 crore for admission in commercial courts to improve ease of doing business. The amendment also provides for establishment of commercial courts at the district judge level.
The politically sensitive Bills to be taken up in the upcoming session includes the triple talaq Bill. Observers feel that like the Budget session, the short monsoon session could be stormy, too. Of the 40-odd Bills listed for consideration in the Budget session, only two were approved by the Lok Sabha without discussion. The cost of each hour of Lok Sabha proceedings was as high as Rs 2 crore in FY18, while the same for the Rajya Sabha was Rs 1.33 crore.