The Parliament Thursday passed the Finance Bill 2017, even as the Lok Sabha rejected the amendments to the Bill suggested by the Rajya Sabha.
On Wednesday, the government had to face embarrassment in the Parliament when the Opposition party MPs forced five amendments to the Bill, post which the Bill was brought back to Lok Sabha today.
Earlier this week, Lok Sabha had passed the Finance Bill as a money bill with 40 amendments including stringent penalty for delays in tax returns and more power to the Income-Tax department.
The Rajya Sabha had suggested amendments that were adopted in the upper house on Wednesday with significant margin. Digvijay Singh of Congress moved three of the five amendments while the other two were moved by Sitaram Yechury of CPI (M).
In Rajya Sabha, BJP has 56 seats and NDA combine has 74 seats.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said that the Parliament cannot accept the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha.
Key amendments in the Finance Bill 2017
> The Centre has included amendments to the Income Tax Act, which gives more power to the tax officials. The I-T department will not be required to disclose reasons for carrying out I-T raids or check.
> The Finance Bill also entails unlimited and anonymous corporate funding for political parties. Earlier, the upper limit for donations was capped, which has been removed now.
> Also, the donations will remain anonymous. Donations from foreign entities too will not be disclosed.
> The Bill has also amended the Representation of People’s Act, which governs election.
> Another amendment merges various tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies), which examine appeals of regulatory decisions. The government can now provide for qualification, appointments, removal, etc. for the tribunal members – this means the government will have arbitrary power over the tribunal.
> The Bill also makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN card and for filing income-tax returns.
> The Bill also reduced cash transaction limit to Rs 2 lakh from earlier Rs 3 lakh.
The Opposition has called the Finance Bill 2017 an act of ‘terrorism’ with government trying to bring back the inspector raj with changes to the Income-Tax laws. They also said that many of the provisions were passed surreptitiously by passing the bill as a money bill.
A money bill can only be voted in the Lok Sabha, where the ruling party has a majority. Rajya Sabha can only suggest changes to a money bill.