Owaisi Puts Lok Sabha in a Tight Spot With Demand for Ruling on FCRA Amendment Issue

Asaduddin Owaisi. Credit: PTI

Asaduddin Owaisi. Credit: PTI

New Delhi:  Hot on the heels of the controversial enactment of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, as a money bill, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday faced a piquant situation when a member insisted on a ruling on the issue of whether the government can amend the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and RBI Act through a money bill.

The finance bill includes a provision to amend the FCRA to retroactively permit a large number of multinational companies to make donations to political parties that have hitherto been illegal under the act. In 2014, the BJP and Congress were found by the Delhi high court to have violated the FCRA by accepting donations from Vedanta, a London-based company.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi contended that amending the FCRA, which is under the domain of the home ministry, and the RBI Act through a money bill was against the provisions of the Constitution.

“I am raising an issue, please give a ruling,” Owaisi said during discussion on the Finance Bill at a time when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is away in Germany on an official visit.

The query landed Arjun Charan Sethi, who was in the chair, in a tough spot. He said the ruling would be given after Jaitley’s reply tomorrow.

Owaisi said there was no point in continuing the debate on the Finance Bill without a ruling by the chair on the point of order raised by him.

In Jaitley’s absence, the government did not have a ready response to the ruling sought by Owaisi.

Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha tried to stay in control of the situation by saying Jaitley would respond to the issue in his reply to the debate on the Finance Bill.

Owaisi was joined by Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab who said the government had earlier amended the RBI Act through the Finance Bill but was not sure whether the FCRA too could be amended in the same manner.

Prompted by Lok Sabha officials, Sethi defused the situation by saying that chair had reserved the ruling, to be announced tomorrow.

With inputs from PTI