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With odds stacked against it in RS, govt mulls Jnt Session

With numbers heavily stacked against it the Rajya Sabha, government does not rule out the possibility of convening a joint session of Parliament after the Budget sitting if its attempts to get through with the Ordinances fails.

Top government sources spoke of such an option to get key economic legislations including the one on insurance and coal sector reforms passed if it is not able to enact ordinances on these subjects in the budget session concluding early May.

Sources said the government is considering introducing the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, which seeks to raise foreign investment in the insurance sector to 49 per cent in the Lok Sabha soon as the earlier Bill has become infructuous following the promulgation of the Ordinance. “Old bills have become infructuous. Bill based on Ordinances will be introduced. Same would be the case for the Bill pertaining to the insurance sector,” the sources said.

In December, the President had promulgated the Ordinance on insurance and re-promulgated Coal Ordinance, a day after the conclusion of the Winter session of Parliament.

The Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 could not be taken up for discussion in Parliament despite being approved by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha because of the uproar over the conversion and other issues.

The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 has already been approved by the Lok Sabha during the session but could make no progress in the upper House.

Explaining the constitutional provision, the sources said “If one Bill is introduced and passed in one house and the other house stops it or amends it or rejects it or for six months it does not do anything, then the Bill goes to joint session.”

The condition requisite for convening a joint session is one house passes a bill and the other house amends or sits over it doing nothing for six months.

“By tabling the Ordinance in the Lok Sabha, the government has made Insurance Bill pending Rajya Sabha, since 2008, infructuous,” the sources said. “Now it will be tabled in the Lok Sabha and passed in the lower house. If the Rajya Sabha holds it for some period of time, then it will go to a joint session,” the sources said. In the last Winter session, the government could not get the insurance amendment bill with a composite foreign investment cap of 49 per cent passed in the Rajya Sabha.

The Select Committee in its report to the Rajya Sabha had suggested hike in composite foreign investment limit in insurance sector to 49 per cent which would include Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as portfolio investment.

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