03 February 2017 13:37:58 IST

War of words as Jaitley introduces Bill to make holding of scrapped notes punishable

Trinamool terms Centre's decision on demonetisation as 'totally illegal'

A war of words broke out between Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, as the latter got up to introduce The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill that makes the demonetised ₹1,000/500 notes a punishable offence.

Opposing the Bill’s introduction and accusing the government for taking a “disruptive step for the economy” affecting lakhs of livelohoods, Roy termed the Bill as “totally illegal” and “unparliamentary.”

“The Bill is illegal because the basic statement of the Prime Minister on November 8 was made without a notification from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). No reference was made to Parliament,” he said, adding that under the RBI Act (Section 34 and 26), it is the apex bank that which should have come out with a notification.”

Roy also sent the Treasury benches on their feet in protest when he took a jibe at Jaitley, saying the Minister was not aware of Lok Sabha rules as he was never its member. Jaitley is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Parlaimentary Affair Minister Ananth Kumar objected to Roy’s remarks, adding that the Finance Minister was an esteemed Cabinet colleague whose knowledge of rules could not be questioned, as he had also been adjudged the ‘Best Parliamentarian’.

The Finance Minister hit back at Roy, questioning his right to speak under Rule 72, as his objections were not related to legislative competence or constitutional aspects.

“The November 8 notification was under Section 26(2), which the RBI is sompetenet to pass,” he informed the House.

As per the Bill, the government took the demonetisation decision on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system.

The Bill, which replaces an ordinance promulgated on December 30 last that provides for a fine of ₹10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher, on holding of more than 10 banned ₹1,000/500 notes.

Apart from aiming at ceasing the liability on old notes, the bill also provides that an Indian citizen, who was outside the country between November 9 and December 30, will be entitled to tender the demonetised noted within the grace period under rules provided by the RBI. It also prohibits the holding, transferring or receiving of these notes from December 31, 2016.

Wage Payment Bill introduced

Earlier Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya introduced a new Bill on Payment of Wages after withdrawing the old one, which was opposed by RSP leader NK Premachandran. “There are no material changes in the new Bill, so why should the pending Bill be withdrawn” he said, citing Rule 110(2).

The Bill seeks to make wage payment transparent by by going into digital mode of payment, rather than in cash and kind.​