Jaitley vs Oppn: RS passes Finance Bill with 5 amendments

Congress MP Kapil Sibal said the government was not interested in prosperity but was trying to unleash taxmen on the people besides wantonly giving a push to crony capitalism. DH file
Time for Parliament to revisit Constitution's Article 110: Sitaram Yechury

30 March, 2017

"How have you done this through the Finance Act?" he asked. Of the five amendments, three were moved by Digvijay Singh of Congress and two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI-M.

The Bill was returned to the Lok Sabha that will consider the amendments moved by the upper House, but it is not a binding on the Lower House to accept all or any of the amendments. "I share the concern and that is why there is a provision in the Act that privacy norms must be maintained, it can't be made public", Jaitley said.

"That is why we moved the amendment, the Rajya Sabha approved it and now the government will have to take it back to Lok Sabha and their misusing the tyranny of democracy that they have".

The debate on the Bill saw the Opposition ripping apart the Centre's claims that IT authorities are not given a free hand in raiding or seizing the properties of tax payees and that the political funding process has been made more transparent. Digvijaya Singh's amendments related to provisions to change the Income Tax Act, over which Chidambaram and Jaitley had a long sparring session. Jaitley also responded to questions over changes proposed to the Income Tax laws and asserted that any source who reports about any tax evasion, can not be allowed to be identified. "Don't say it is due to Aadhaar", Jaitley said. An important provision would enable political parties to receive unlimited and anonymous funding from corporate entities and fromabroad, and will make electoral bonds anonymous. "Satisfactory note can not be made available to the target of the investigation", he said.

Samajwadi party member Naresh Agarwal wanted to know whether the merger of various tribunals could be brought in through the Finance Bill.

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He clarified that appointments of judges or retired judges in Appellate Tribunals will be made in consultation with the Chief Justice, as has been the established practice. I think Pentagon got hacked without Aadhaar being there. "Pentagon has been hacked".

Chidambaram said that Aadhaar was never meant to be tagged to IT returns and bank accounts, and said that even the Pentagon was hacked. Because it enables data sharing even by private companies, it renders all citizens vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, cyber-piracy, data breaches and other uses of their personal data with very serious security implications.

Yechury said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives political lectures on eliminating political corruption during elections, what they are doing to the laws is exactly opposite.

Congress leader P Chidambaram cited the the example of Dhoni's wife Sakshi alleging a leak of her cricketer husband's Aadhaar details and asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley how the government planned to protect the privacy of bank accounts and income tax details of people since it was making Aadhaar mandatory for income tax and PAN. "The finance minister has really made a serious effort to finish off the spirit of democratic discourse, to finish off parliamentary democracy to not only reduce Rajya Sabha to irrelevance but also to reduce Lok Sabha to complete irrelevance", Jairam Ramesh of the Congress said.

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