Amid stiff resistance followed by walk out by the Congress Members, the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015 had passed the much awaited Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 on Goods and Services Tax (GST) with 2/3rd majority. Being a Constitutional Amendment Bill, it needs two-thirds of both houses to vote in its favour followed by its ratification by at least 50% of the States before it becomes law of the land.
With no consenus in sight and the Modi Government facing a number crunch in the Rajya Sabha, long-pending GST Constitutional Amendment Bill was on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 referred to a Select Panel after the opposition insisted on its legislative scrutiny.
During a debate in the Lok Sabha, the Hon’ble Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley earlier rejected opposition demand for sending the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill to Standing Committee on grounds that the move would unduly delay the GST rollout scheduled on April 1, 2016. Since the BJP has absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the Government did not face much resistance in passing the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lower House. However, the situation is just the opposite in the Rajya Sabha where the Modi Government is woefully short of numbers.
The Select Committee will comprise under Chairmanship Bhupender Yadav (BJP) and other members of Committee Chandan Mitra, Ajay Sancheti, Madhusudan Mistry, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Balachandra Mungekar, Naresh Agrawal, KC Tyagi, Derek O’brien, A Navaneethakrishnan, Satish Chandra Misra, KN Balagopal, Dilip Tirkey, Praful Patel, Kanimozhi, Anil Desai, Naresh Gujral, Mir Mohammad Fayaz, D Raja and Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
The Select Committee is scheduled to submit its report in the first week of the monsoon session of Parliament so that the Government can debate the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill and get it passed by the middle of this fiscal.
The move may delay the roll out of GST from April 1, 2016. The only hope for the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill will now be in the monsoon session of Parliament in July as the Budget session ends on May 13, 2015.
(Bimal Jain, FCA, FCS, LLB, B.Com (Hons), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)