11:21 pm - Wednesday November 18, 2015

Congress adjournment notice on black money rejected in Lok Sabha

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A notice by the Congress to bring an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha on the issue of black money was rejected by speaker Sumitra Mahajan Wednesday.

She, however, agreed to look into the demand of the opposition to hold discussion at the earliest on the subject which is listed towards the end of Wednesday’s agenda.

Mahajan informed the House that the adjournment motion moved by Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, M Veerappa Moily and Kamal Nath among others does not fulfil the criteria under Rule 56 as it was not a new issue as the matter has been discussed in the previous Lok Sabha.

She also said the Question Hour cannot be suspended to take up the discussion.

On the request of Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress) and Sudip Bandhopadhyay (Trinamool Congress) to take up the discussion at the earliest, the speaker said she will see to it that the debate is taken up as soon as possible though she did not give any time.

The government had earlier agreed to hold a debate on the much-debated issue in House after the first working day of the session (Tuesday) saw the Trinamool Congress, Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), among others, alleging that the government had done nothing to bring back black money stashed abroad.

The repatriation of black money emerged as a key issue in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pledging to take prompt action on the matter.

“100 days are over, where is the black money?” the opposition asked the government Tuesday, storming the Well of the Lok Sabha.

Trinamool Congress members displayed black umbrellas in protest, in the face of which the government agreed to hold a debate in the House.

While finance minister Arun Jaitley assured the opposition in Rajya Sabha, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu made a similar promise in Lok Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha also saw an uproar Tuesday, with members from the Janata Dal (United), SP and the Trinamool upping the ante.

Derek O’Brien (Trinamool) raised the issue in Rajya Sabha, saying, “The government has made some assurances outside the House on bringing back black money. But no black money has come…There was a lot of hope on this issue, but the government is not delivering.”

Responding to him, Jaitley said the member had raised an important issue, and the government was “too willing to discuss” it.

In Lok Sabha, the Speaker pleaded with the agitating members to go back to their seats, even assuring them that she would try for an early debate on the issue in consultation with various political parties. But, her pleas went unheeded.

Naidu said the government had nothing to hide and was ready to discuss the issue. He said the government has done a lot in the last six months on the black money issue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had said it was moving towards repatriation of hundreds of billions of dollars in slush funds or black money stashed abroad, as part of a wider clampdown on corruption that Modi promised during his election campaign.

The government had recently named seven persons and a company facing prosecution for keeping illegal wealth in foreign banks, while submitting a detailed list of foreign account holders to the Supreme Court.

The government is believed to have built pressure particularly on Switzerland, seeking details of Indians who have parked unaccounted for money in the Alpine country’s highly secretive banks.

After coming to power, it had quickly implemented a Supreme Court directive to set up a high-powered special investigation team, headed by retired judge MB Shah, to look into the issue.

Black money arises mainly from incomes not disclosed to the government usually to avoid taxation, and, sometimes, because of its criminal links. About a third of India’s black moneytransactions are believed to be in real estate, followed by manufacturing and shopping for gold and consumer goods.

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