New Delhi, March 12: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday evening passed the insurance bill to allow 49 percent FDI in insurance sector, after initial reservations from the opposition benches about an identical bill remaining pending with the house.
The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was already passed by the Lok Sabha and seeks to replace an ordinance, was tabled in the upper house on Thursday. The long-pending bill was passed by voice vote after walkout by Trinamool Congress and DMK, PTI reported
Contending that an identical bill is pending with the house, opposition members questioned the tabling of a bill, even as Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien noted that there was no rule preventing the government from doing so.
The issue was however sorted later after the house was adjourned for half an hour for discussions, after which the bill was taken up.
The opposition initially pointed out that no time was allotted for the bill by the business advisory committee of the house.
Kurien however noted that at an informal meeting of leaders from all parties, it was decided that two hours will be given to the bill.
Later as the bill was tabled, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader P. Rajeeve said a select committee of the upper house has already given a report on an older version of the bill and the new bill that has been brought is identical in nature.
"If we take up the bill, what happens to the select committee report? Are we ready to dilute the powers of the council of states," he asked.
Kurien, however, ruled that there was nothing in the rule book or the constitution that could prevent the government from bringing the bill but added that the situation was "unprecedented".
"Going through procedure of the constitution, I have come to conclusion though it may be unusual and unprecedented... one bill is our property, other sent by the other house... this is certainly unusual but there is no constitutional provision or rule which prohibits the listing of a bill passed by the Lok Sabha in the Rajya Sabha, even if it is substantially identical to a bill already pending as long as it meets the requirement set out in the constitution and rules of procedure," he said.
"The insurance bill has been listed today... house has procedural options open to it. The house can allow the bill to be withdrawn, can reject, or pass it. You are supreme... you can take decision," he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also said that the bill should be taken up as the ordinance was brought because the bill could not be passed in the previous session.
When the opposition members remained unconvinced and continued with their objections, the chairman adjourned the house briefly for ten minutes -- and subsequently for half an hour.
When the house reassembled, the differences had been sorted and the debate on the bill was taken up.