Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Will the govt prorogue RS to re-promulgate land Bill?

The government is looking at the possibility of calling an end to the ongoing session of the Rajya Sabha to enable it to re-promulgate the land acquisition amendment Bill.

The two Houses are scheduled to have a month- long recess beginning March 20, before meeting again on April 20 to continue the session until May 8.

According to the plan being discussed in the government, the Lok Sabha will continue its ‘Budget session’ when it meets after the recess but the Rajya Sabha’s ongoing 234th session will be prorogued and it would be the 235th session when it meets on April 20.

According to Article 123 of the Constitution, ordinances can be promulgated or re-promulgated when either of the two Houses is not in session. There is little likelihood of the land Bill finding the Opposition support. The ordinance related to the Bill will either need to be re-promulgated or allowed to lapse when it expires on April 6.

Therefore, proroguing the Rajya Sabha is the only option with the government if it wants to re-promulgate the land Bill. The Upper House, considered a 'continuous House' unlike the Lok Sabha, does not vote on money Bills. But the government will need to get the finance Bill passed in the Lok Sabha when the House meets after recess. Government sources claimed to have found 13 instances of a Parliament session being prorogued mid-session in the past.

But the government can also avoid all this trouble by choosing not to re-promulgate the land ordinance and sending a positive signal to the opposition that it is willing to take it on board.

The government is confident that the Rajya Sabha will pass two of its other key Bills - the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bills - before the House breaks for a month long recess on Friday.

Three hours have been allocated for the discussion on the mines and minerals Bill, after the tabling of the select committee report on Wednesday, while the coal Bill is scheduled to be taken up in the Upper House on Thursday. This will leave the government at least a day each for both the Bills to be resent to the Lok Sabha in the eventuality of the Rajya Sabha passing these with any amendments. The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs will take a call on extending the session before Parliament breaks for the recess on Wednesday.

The Lok Sabha has already passed these two Bills. The ordinances related to mines and minerals, coal and land lapse in the first week of April.

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