Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill, Jaitley says Aadhaar move to curb tax evasion

Parliament is discussing the Finance Bill, 2017 as part of it s budget session on Wednesday. Here are the latest updates and highlights from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha

Updated22 Mar 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday pulled up BJP MPs for skilling Parliament proceedings. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday pulled up BJP MPs for skilling Parliament proceedings. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: The Finance Bill, 2017 came up for discussion in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed 40 amendments, sparking protests from many regional parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and others.

These parties allege that by tagging many important bills such as amendments to the Employees Provident Fund, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, Companies Act and the Information Technology Act, Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Act, to the Finance Bill, the government is attempting to bypass the Rajya Sabha where it is not in majority.

Jaitley has also proposed making Aadhaar, mandatory for filing of income-tax returns as well as for obtaining the permanent account number (PAN), allowing only cheque contributions to electoral trusts, and capping the limit for cash transactions to Rs2 lakh from 1 April, from the earlier proposed Rs3 lakh.

Here are the latest updates and highlights on the Finance Bill, 2017:

‘18 lakh people did not match with their income profile’

Action will definitely be taken against 9.29 lakh entities who have not responded to the income tax department’s queries over cash deposited by them which did not match their income profile, the government said in the Lok Sabha.

During the 50-day period post-demonetisation, 18 lakh entities deposited scrapped notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 not commensurate with their income means, Jaitley said in reply to a debate on the Finance Bill. “Currently, the process of remonetisation is on. But through data mining, CBDT and tax department have found out from the first cut analysis that cash deposited by 18 lakh people did not match with their income profile,” he said.

Aadhaar move to curb tax evasion: Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said making Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income tax returns is necessary to curb tax evasion and frauds, rejecting opposition demand for a relook at the move.

Jaitley replied in the affirmative when a BJD member questioned in Lok Sabha whether the government was “forcing” the people to have Aadhaar number by making it mandatory.

Jaitley, however, ruled out imposing any tax on agriculture income, saying it is a state matter.

6.10pm: Lok Sabha passes the Finance Bill, 2017. After Zero Hour, adjourned till 11am tomorrow. (DD News)

Jaitley also said that the government will bring a bill to amend Excise and Customs Act, along with four bills on goods and services tax (GST). (PTI)

Post-demonetisation, I-T dept sent SMS/Emails to 18 lakh people, out of which 8.71 lakh have responded; action will be taken against the rest, said the finance minister. (PTI)

5.20pm: Aadhaar number has been made mandatory for filing of Income Tax returns to curb tax evasion and frauds, says finance minister Arun Jaitley.

3.15pm: Rajasthan BJP MP Subhash Chandra Baheria seeks clear information on cash withdrawals and other transactions. He says there is unnecessary burden on common tax payers.

2.45pm: Rajya Sabha takes up discussion on electoral reforms.

Earlier during the Zero Hour, members raised concerns about “data brokers” who they claimed were selling personal information to companies for an amount. SP member Sanjay Seth said that companies were calling up people offering loans or other schemes after purchasing such data from these operators.

Another SP member Naresh Agrawal said he had also got such phone calls and the callers never disclosed where they had got the numbers from. He also raised concerns relating to hacking and said in some countries instances of fraud have also occurred.

2.15pm: Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Dangal’ will be screened for MPs on Thursday to send across a message of women empowerment while providing a slice of entertainment.

The movie will be screened on the initiative of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumita Mahajan.

It will be screened in Parliament’s Balayogi auditorium in the evening after the session gets over.

2pm: Some of the major issues discussed before the session was adjourned:

— Separation of powers is as binding on the judiciary as it is on other pillars of democracy, the government told the Lok Sabha today as members claimed the Supreme Court was getting into the domain of law-making through some of its verdicts.

Asking supplementaries on pending cases and vacancies in courts, Sanjay Jaiswal (BJP) remarked that the Supreme Court was getting into law-making through its verdicts on issues ranging from cricket management to medical entrance tests.

His remarks drew thumping of desks from members across the House. Prasad refused to offer any comment on the apex court orders on cricket management or NEET entrance examination.

But at the same time, he pointed out that in the Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala judgement, the top court had clearly laid out separation of powers between the three organs of democracy.

He said while the legislature will formulate law, the executive will execute it and the judiciary will interpret the law. “If it is binding on all, sorry to say, it is equally binding on the judiciary,” he said. (PTI)

— Aadhaar has not been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concessions in train tickets but the Railways have initiated a process to create a database of senior citizens, Lok Sabha was informed.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu made it clear that Aadhaar number has not been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concessions in train tickets.

He, however, said the Railway has initiated a process to create a database of senior citizens through pre-verification of senior citizens based on Aadhaar details on voluntary basis with effect from 1 January this year. (PTI)

— Nuclear power generation capacity in the country is expected to reach nearly 15,000 MW by 2024 as the government has expedited the process of setting up new plants, Lok Sabha was informed.

In 2014, India’s nuclear power generation capacity was 4,780 MW.

Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh said a number of steps have been taken by the Narendra Modi government to fast-track all ongoing nuclear projects and setting up of new plants in different parts of the country.

“When we came to power in 2014, we had set a target of generating nuclear power by three time in 10 years and we hope to reach that target,” he said during Question Hour. (PTI)

1.15pm: The House is adjourned till 2pm.

1pm: Home minister Rajnath Singh responds to CPM’s Sitaram Yechury who stressed on “political dialogue” to resolve the issue of unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Singh said, “India is doing everything to improve the situation in Kashmir.”

Earlier Singh also responded to Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut on alleged ISI role in the recent rail accidents in the country. He said the matter is under investigation from all angles including the role of ISI is being probed.

11.45am: The first question was asked by BJP MP Chintamani Malviya on paperless VIP quota in trains. Minister says the government is working on it and a note has been sent to the Parliament Secretariat.

CPM MP Mohammad Salim asks for on-camera proceedings of court cases.

■ 11.30am: Question Hour began at 11am in Lok Sabha. The House reconvened after a productive day of business on Tuesday.

In Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari started the proceedings with a statement on World Water Day. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh raises the government formation issue in both Goa and Manipur.

■ 11.00am: Following is the list of some of major bills and issues to be deliberated in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha today:

Lok Sabha: The Finance Bill, 2017, The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2017

Rajya Sabha: The Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Appropriation (Railways) Bill, 2017 (for consideration and return), discussion on the Union Budget 2017-18, discussion on the working of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Short duration discussion on electoral reforms among others.

— Earlier on Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014. The bill seeks to assure treatment to patients without stigmatising them and for action in the event of being denied treatment. (DD News)

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