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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Lok Sabha updates March 25, 2022

Today, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah, introduced a Bill further to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 to merge the three municipal corporations of Delhi into one. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the The Finance Bill, 2022 for consideration, which was followed by discussions on the same by House members.

The Finance Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, marking the completion of the budgetary exercise for the financial year 2022-23.

Yesterday, on the eight day of the second part of the Budget session, saw Opposition members protesting against the fuel price hike, leading to a short adjournment.

The Appropriation Bill, 2022, which will allow the Centre to authorise payment and appropriation of certain sums from and out of the Consolidated Fund of the Union Territory of Jammy and Kashmir for the services of the Financial Year 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, was passed by the House

Here are the latest updates:

6:18 p.m.

House adjourned till 11 am on March 28

6:00 p.m.

Minister of AYUSH makes statement

Talking about the proposed establishment of the World Health Organisation- Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (WHO-CTM) in the Jamnagar, Gujarat, AYUSH Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced that host country agreement for the same will be signed today by the Secretary of AYUSH and the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Organisation’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

5:50 p.m.

Don’t raise questions on EVMs: Kiren Rijiju

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha that no questions should be raised on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as they are kept in the Election Commission’s custody after being handed over to it by manufacturers.

Mr. Rijiju said that the Indian election system has been recognised as “one of the best in the world”, replying to a question asked by Congress member Manish Tewari.

During the Question Hour, Mr.Tewari asked for a “specific reply” from the minister on whether the source code of the EVMs remain with the EC or the companies that manufacture them.

“If a company manufactures machines and hands them over to the Election Commission, how will it control the EVMs? That comes under the EC,” said Mr. Rijiju. “No question should be raised on the EVMs. I won’t want to draw any inference on this.” -PTI

5:45 p.m.

No plan to make voting mandatory: Centre

 Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there is no proposal to bring a law to enforce compulsory voting in the country.

He said that there are no plans to make voting certificate mandatory to avail government benefits and schemes and induce people to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

The Election Commission, over the years, has been making efforts to encourage people to come out in large numbers to vote in Lok Sabha and assembly polls .The voter turnout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was 67%- the highest ever. - PTI

5:35 p.m.

Relief announced for medical students who could not complete studies abroad due to compelling situations

Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply in Lok Sabha that Indian students pursuing medical studies abroad, who could not complete their internship due to compelling situations such as war and the COVID pandemic will now be able to finish their remaining internship in the country.

She added, however, that this will be be subject to the condition that such candidates must have cleared FMGE (screening test), which is mandatory for Indian students with foreign medical qualification to practice medicine in India. - PTI

5:30 p.m.

Members discuss matters of urgent public importance in Zero Hour

5:10 p.m.

States have not reported COVID deaths due to Oxygen shortage: Centre

Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar informed the Lok Sabha in a written that few states and union territories have responded to the Centre’s requests to furnish details on COVID-19 deaths owing to oxygen shortage and none of them have reported confirmed deaths due to the same.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2020, had issued ‘Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India’. The health ministry, through a letter dated October 9, 2020, conveyed to states and union territories, WHO and ICMR guidelines on correct recording of COVID-19 related deaths in accordance with the globally accepted ICD-10 classification and also urged them to undertake periodic death audits with an aim to improve the quality of healthcare services by taking suitable corrective measures, Ms. Pawar said.

States and union territories were also provided with a pro-forma for death audits in this regard, she added.

The Minister informed that 3,756 PSA Oxygen plants had been commissioned in the country as of March 21, 2022. This includes PSA plants under PM-CARES, PSUs of various central ministries and other sources to better the capacity of medical oxygen production and supply at the facility level, Ms. Pawar said.

She added that 4,02,517 oxygen cylinders and 1,13,858 oxygen concentrators have been allocated to states and union territories, and under the Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP) Phase II, funds to install 958 Liquid Medical Oxygen storage tanks with 1,359 medical gas pipeline systems (MGPS) have also been provided to states. -PTI

4:50 p.m.

Finance Bill passed

Honourable Speaker Om Birla moves Finance Bill, 2022 for consideration through a verbal vote; believes that the ‘ayes’ have the majority. The Bill is further moved for clause by clause consideration of the house.

4:40 p.m.

‘Congress party never thought of reducing the common man’s burden in terms of tax’

“Indira Gandhi who was also Finance Minister in 1970, had increased the surcharge on income tax so that the maximum rate was 93.5% for income over Rs 2 lakh. Today, if we do 1% TDS, we are being mocked and hit at,” Ms. Sitharaman says.

“Tax is a matter in which the Congress party never thought of reducing the common man’s burden, whereas we are constantly working to make sure that people are not burdened, and people who run businesses are treated with pride so that they can create jobs. We don’t take any vicarious pleasure in killing jobs.”

As the Finance Minister concludes her response, Congress MP Mr. Gaurav Gogoi says he does not recall any parliament in the world, which in 2022, discusses matters of 1950-70.  

4:35 p.m.

Finance Minister on fuel price rise

“Many asked about fuel price rise. Sir, global situation, war-like situation is not a time when we are looking at raising price.... this war that is happening in Ukraine, the impact is on all the countries, supply chains are disrupted, particularly on crude oil and so on,” she says.

“If even in 1951, if Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru could say that a Korean war can affect Indian inflation. I will have to say because war anywhere can affect us here, today in a globally-connected time, it will definitely affect the price.”

4:20 pm.

India issued no new taxes, to aid pandemic recovery, says FM

“We have taken a conscious position not to fund the (pandemic) recovery through any additional taxes,” says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “And that is why, this year and last year, the continuity in not bringing newer taxation is something I would like to place on record.”

“I want to draw on the reports which have come out of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development), which very clearly said that at least 32 countries increased various taxes during the pandemic, India did not.”

Ms. Sitharaman points out that the 32 countries increased tax on personal income, tax on corporate income, environment related taxes, health related taxes, or excise duties. “We have not done that last year, nor have we done it this year.”

“As a result, this Finance Bill has been called boring, but we have decided not to burden the common man and decided to increase infrastructure spending,” the Finance Minister says.

On question raised by House members about relief on corporate tax rates and no relief for the middle-class, she said: “for individuals, due to rebate, they don’t pay any tax if income is below Rs. 5 lakh. Those opting for tax savings, of course, pay no tax even on higher income as they can claim deductions. For those not opting for exemptions, we came up with an alternative income tax layer to pay lesser taxes last year.”

FM on Cryptocurrency

On the issues raised by MPs that the government is giving mixed signals on Virtual Digital Currency (VDA), Ms. Sitharaman said: “We are very clear. Whether we want to regulate or ban it, will be done when the consultations are concluded. But till then, we are taxing it also as a lot of transactions are happening. There is definitely common place knowledge that a lot of transactions are happening. So obviously the government made its position clear that we shall tax the money.”

On the issue of 1% TDS on VDA transactions (such as cryptocurrency), she said, “TDS is more for tracking, it is not an additional new tax. For the person paying TDS, he can always reconcile it with his other taxable income. That is the reason, in general, our tax base is widening and TDS is a legitimate way for tracking the transactions and widen the base.”


Ms. Sitharaman also responds to the issue raised earlier today by NCP MP Surpiya Sule about individuals being imprisoned for errors in GST filing. “Only section 132 in CGST act provides for it for specific cases like evading taxes, deliberate tampering of records and false information with intent to evade… Imprisonment is only in cases of serious nature and not for minor mistakes or errors.”

On the issue raised by Ms. Sule that arrests were bring made under the Prohibition of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) without registering FIRs, the Minister said: “ First of all, offences under the PMLA are invariably linked to some other offence listed in the schedule of the Act. So, unless there is an offence, for which there is an FIR, a predicate offence cannot be picked up by the ED. ED always comes in following the trail of the main offence.”

“ED is never the first one on the scene. If you see ED, you can be sure that something else has already happened,” she adds.

4:00 p.m.

Finance Minister responds to discussions on the Finance Bill, 2022

3:30 p.m.

Even nil GST return cannot be filed with ease: RSP MP

RSP MP from Kerala, N.K. Premachandran says it is the right time to review the performance of GST in the last four and a half years.

He says that the Goods and Services Tax (GST), at the time of introduction in 2017, was described by the government as ‘Good and Simple Tax’, but “presently, even nil return cannot be filed with a single click of the mouse.”

“The basic purpose of the introducing the GST was to avoid multiplicity of the rate of tax, strict tax compliance, increasing the tax base and having one nation one tax.”

Mr. Premachandran, pointing out the “highly-intricate” nature of the GST and its compliance, quoted a judge of the Gujarat High Court, who said, “it is very easy to reach the moon; we would take a chance, but to understand your policies and intricacies of this tax (GST), Oh God, with folded hands, we say that it is beyond our capacity to understand.”

3:00 p.m.

577 Indian fishermen in Pakistan’s custody

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan informed the Lok Sabha in the Question Hour that as many as 577 Indian fishermen are in the custody of Pakistan and India has consistently been raising the incidents of their detention and capture of their fishing boats by Pakistan.

The Minister said that according to the India-Pakistan “Agreement on Consular Access” signed on May 21, 2008, lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country, are exchanged twice a year: on January 1 and July 1.

“According to the lists exchanged on January 1, 2022, Pakistan has acknowledged the custody of 577 fishermen who are Indian or are believed to be Indian,” he said.

Besides, the Mr. Muraleedharan said, according to government records, 1,164 Indian fishing boats are also believed to be in Pakistan’s custody. However, the latter has not acknowledged the custody of the boats yet. - PTI

2:45 p.m.

PM’s demonetisation dream has been ‘belied’: BJD MP

Pinaki Misra, BJD MP from Odisha and Standing Committee on Estimates, criticises the implementation of demonetisation, saying that the Prime Minister’s vision and dream to remove black money and to do away with fake currency has been “belied”.

“Not only did the 16 lakh crore which was demonetised then, come back in its entirety meaning all the black money came back, but some 30,000 crore more than the issued currency or 30,000 crore in fake currency also came back into the government’s system,” said Mr. Misra.

On cryptocurrency, the Opposition MP says that the current government has created a notion that dealing in cryptocurrency is a “sin”, and created so much confusion on Cryptocurrency.

“The RBI governor has said crypto is just ‘hot air’, and this government wants to tax hot air,” referring to the 30% taxation of Cryptocurrency, which is more than the tax levied on equity gains, and the 1% Tax Deducted at Source (TDS), which he says is thousand times higher than what the industry had suggested. .

“This is symptomatic of the complete confusion in the minds of the government as far as cryptocurrency is concerned.”


‘People are being asked to pay advanced GST’

YSRCP MP from Andra Pradesh, raising the issue of GST payments that are pending from the Centre’s side, said, “people are being asked to pay advanced GST even before the realisation of the payment.....when people are under stress and government is trying to come up with incentives and support, if government is not pay the people, how cant GST be collected in advance?”

2.04 p.m.

Supriya Sule critcises ‘injustice’ under PMLA

Supriya Sule (NCP) speaks on the Finance Bill, 2022. “We are talking about big issues of Russia and Ukraine, and those discussions should happen, but we also need to talk about the price of Petrol and Diesel,” she says.

I request this government to take this issue of inflation very seriously, she says.

“Everyone’s view is that crypto is not good for this country...then why are you not banning it? Why are you taxing it 30%? You say that the crypto industry is shaken by the government, no one is scared of 30%, everything is going on in the dark net. You have to take a strong action about crypto, if you say you are a strong government, either you completely ban it or bring complete clarity on it,” she says about the cryptocurrency issue.

On the matter of taxation, specifically the goods and services tax, Ms. Sule says the idea to introduce GST was good but this government is sending confusing signals on it. She also said that people in her state are being imprisoned for minor errors in GST compliance, adding that “if the government is capable of making errors in the Finance Bill, it should spare the common man.”

Talking about the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, the NCP MP says, “the current government, which had criticised PMLA, has now said you can arrest somebody under the PLMA without an FIR...even the Supreme Court has criticised this.”

“This is not done, it is a democracy,” she says, adding that if the government wanted the country to become an investment hub for good investment, such practices are making people wary of investing. “If you want to clean the system, we will stand behind you, but don’t commit injustice.”

Notably, NCP leader and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik is currently in prison, in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody over a case registered against him under the PMLA.

1:50 p.m.

Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 introduced

Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai introduces the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2002, which proposes the merger of the South, North and East Delhi Municipal Corporations into one.

1.45 p.m.

‘Insert a provision that Amaravati is and will remain the only capital of Andhra Pradesh’

“India cannot insulate itself from these developments,” Jayadev Galla (TDP) says addressing the House citing the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on the city of Amaravati, he urges the government to support the development of Amaravati as a world-class city, and to insert a provision that Amaravati is and will remain the only capital of Andhra Pradesh.

He speaks on the issue of resource gap between Andhra Pradesh and the country.

“Reverberations of war, geopolitical scenario around Russia-Ukraine conflict...I feel it further will tilt the balance of risks downwards...I would just like to know whether any fresh assessment has been made by the ministry,” he says.

Continuing on the implications of the Russia Ukraine crisis, he speaks on the issue of Wheat exports, and the rise of price of wheat in international market. He concludes by asking questions on the Russian offer of discounted oil .

1.30 p.m.

‘How do you expect the people to spend when they have no income’

“The Finance Minister has conveniently ignored the aspirations and problems faced by the taxpayer,” K. Sundaram (DMK) says rising to oppose the Bill.

“How do you expect the people to spend when they have no income,” he adds.

He calls upon the government to exempt cotton, cotton fibre, and textile material from custom duty for next five years to boost the industry.

He says that this bill has ignored taxpayers and common man.

1.02 p.m.

‘No economy in the world has escaped from the problems that came from the pandemic’

Nishikant Dubey (BJP) rises to address the House.

He says no economy in the world has escaped from the problems that came from the pandemic, and congratulates the Finance Minister on the Bill.

“I am anticipating that Congress and their allies will speak on the rising fuel prices and inflation. They will ask us what we have done in the last 7 years. But what can we do, what you have left with us, we will have to speak about that,” says Mr. Dubey.

The country that was forced to import foodgrains is not exporting foodgrains, he says adding that similarly we want to reduce our dependence on Petrol and Diesel products, and move towards alternatives.

The notion that we are increasing the prices of Petrol and Diesel, should be done away with, Mr. Dubey says citing the VAT percentages levied on fuel by different States.

Addressing the topic of cryptocurrency, he says that during the time of UPA in 2013-14, the government did not pay heed to crypto. He says that today bribes and drug deals are taking place in crypto.

Who is the owner of this crypto, no one knows, he says. Citing newspaper reports he says that it is being written that the government has shaken the crypto industry, and that the government is moving towards its own digital currency.

Responding to the GST issues raised earlier in the day, he says, “We were not the ones who wanted to bring GST. You introduced the GST bill in 2010-11, and the Committe made by you took away all powers from the State.”

He adds that GST provisions in the current budget aim at closing the GST loopholes.

12.50 p.m.

‘Extend tenure of GST compensation’

Gaurav Gogoi continues to address the House on the Finance Bill, 2022.

He raises the issue of high-earners leaving the country, and further asks the government’s plan in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

“I do hope that the Minister in her reply, mentions that the anti-dumping duty which is being revoked, whether that is temporary or permanent measure,’ he says.

“The position of our States is extremely doubtful, and the timing of GST compensation has been extremely poor. It is completely at the hands of the Central government,” Mr. Gogoi says of the GST requesting extension of tenure of GST compensation.

12.30 p.m.

Discussion under way on the Finance Bill, 2022

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has moved the Finance Bill 2022 for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha

Gaurav Gogoi (INC ) addresses the House.

“The country is recovering but the recovery is unequal,” Mr. Gogoi says, adding that the country is seeing a K-shaped recovery instead of a V-shaped recovery as promised by the government.

Prices are rising and jingoism is the only antidote this government is offering, he adds.

I congratulate you on your stupendous victory, but that doesn’t mean you burden the poor, he says citing the recent hike in fuel prices.

There are already record transactions in cryptocurrency, he says adding that the Government should have two approaches in mind. If you want to treat crypto as a sin, have a high tax on it, then be specific and have that.

12.25 p.m.

Matters of Urgent Public Importance under way

12.20 p.m.

‘Bill is in favour of Delhi citizens’

Nityanand Rai says that the Bill is in no way a violation of the provisions in the Constitution. adding that the Bill is in favour of citizens of Delhi

12.17 p.m.

‘House does not have the legislative competence to enact this bill’

Manish Tewari (INC) says that the House does not have the legislative competence to enact this bill, opposing the introduction of the Bill.

Citing articles from the Constitution of India, he says the power to constitute municipalities lies with the State government.

“If any House has the legislative competence in order to unify these municipalities, it is the Delhi Assembly, it is not this House. It is a trangression on the constitutional provisions,” Mr. Tewari says.

12.10 p.m.

Members rise to oppose the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bil

N.K. Premachandran (RSP), and Gaurav Gogoi (INC) rises to oppose the introduction of the bill.

“This is disrupting the legislative assembly,” N.K. Premachandran (RSP) says addressing the House, regarding the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022. He says the provisions are complex and not specific.

12.07 p.m.

Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022

Nityanand Rai (BJP) on behalf of Amit Shah rises to introduce the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

12.05 p.m.

Papers being laid on the Table

12.03 p.m.

On gap between doses of Covishield

Gaurav Gogoi (INC) asks a question on reducing the gap between doses of Covishield vaccine.

“These decisions are made by scientific committee, not by us, and we have gone by their suggestion,” Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare responds

11.52 a.m.

On imports in the Defence sector

Supriya Sule (NCP) asks a question about depending on foreign partners, and not on Indian producers.

“In our capital budget, we have decided that 68% of it will be spent on domestic production. There are approximately 309 items that won’t be imported, after a certain time period, and will be manufactured locally,” Rajnath Singh says in response.

11.45 a.m.

On Defence expenditure

T.R. Baalu (DMK) raises the issue of Defence expenditure. He says that expenditure needs to be enhanced in the area of modernisation, asking when the government is going to increase the spending to 3% of GDP.

Ajay Bhatt (MoS) responds, citing the current expenditure amount of the Defence sector, that there is no shortfall in the spending.

Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of Defence, says citing a report by Kargil Review Committee in 2000 that there is no need to allocate a fixed percentage of the GDP to defence expenditure, and that every Rupee spent should generate maximum value.

11.33 a.m.

On One Nation-One Voter id

“The government is considering steps towards this. To stop fraud voting, and to have a singular electoral roll which will be followed by all States. There is a possibility that such electoral reforms will help in deterring bogus voting,” Kiren Rijiju, Minister of Law and Justice says in response to a question on One Nation-One Voter id.

K. Muraleedharan (INC) asks on whether the government should consider Pravasi Voting rights. “Before making any declaration we have to ensure the safety, transparency and protection from any malpractices or misuse,” Mr. Rijiju answers

11.14 a.m.

On Indian fishermen in captivity in Sri Lanka

“Harrasment, chasing, killing, putting them in doesn’t occur once in a while. Every month, 2-3 times, the Sri Lankan Navy is repeatedly harrasing, doing lot of atrocities against our Tamil fishermen. Even 2 days before 16 fishermen have been arrested,” Su. Thirunavukkarasar (INC) says asking what steps are being taken by the Central government to stop this.

“Indians abroad, whether they are fishermen, students, labourers, their security and safety has been of utmost importance,” V. Muraleedharan (MoS) says in response citing that recently government brought back students from Ukraine. He says barring the 16 who were arrested recently, the government has brought back every fisherman, and that the government continues to engage with Sri Lankan authorities.

11.04 a.m.

Question Hour under way

Question Hour is under way in the Lok Sabha

11.00 a.m.

Lok Sabha proceedings commence

Proceedings in the Lower House commence for the day.

10.30 a.m.

List of Business

1. Amit Shah to introduce The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

2. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to move the The Finance Bill, 2022 for consideration.

3. Private Members’ Business

4. Papers and Reports to be laid on the Table

5. Question Hour

10.00 a.m.

Day 8 recap

The Lower House on March 24, 2022 held a discussion on Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for 2022-23.

The Appropraition Bill, 2022, introduced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was also passed in the Lok Sabha.

Protest by the opposition members against hike in fuel prices disrupted the proceedings of the House resulting in a short adjournment.

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