RS extends deadline for Select Committee on Insurance Bill

RS extends deadline for Select Committee on Insurance Bill

The Select Committee of Parliament on amending the Insurance Act to raise foreign investment cap was today given two more weeks till December 12 to submit its report, but not before Opposition parties raised questions over the procedure for seeking extension of the timeline.

The Select Committee headed by BJP's Chandan Mitra was to submit the report by November 28.

When Mitra moved a resolution seeking extension of deadline to December 12, P Rajeev (CPI-M) said the committee members were not aware of the move and the Chairman can seek more time for submission of the report only after the issue is discussed in the committee and he is authorised to do so.

"I am a member of the committee and I am not aware of this," Rajeev said as other members of the panel including Derek O'Brien (TMC) and JD Seelam (Cong) joined in to say they too were unaware of the move.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said two members of the Select Committee - J P Nadda and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi -- were inducted in the Council of Ministers. Two new members -- V P Singh Badnore and Rangasayee Ramakrishna -- were today nominated to the Committee.

"Obviously, it will need more time," he said. "They have to decide if they want the committee or want to dissolve it."

If the House desires that the panel should not be given extension, the government was willing to bring the insurance bill tomorrow, he said.

Opposition members, however, continuing to insist that the resolution be withdrawn and Mitra immediately convene a meeting of the panel to discuss the extension of tenure before coming to the House.

But Mitra was unwilling to heed to the advice. Jaitley quoted for rules to say the House can decide on the extension of a panel.

Thereafter, the resolution was put to vote and passed by voice voice.

Earlier, Rajeeve quoted past record of Rajya Sabha to state that chairman of a committee can come to the House to seek extension only after the issue has been discussed in the panel and he has been authorised to seek an extension.

Mitra countered this by quoting from another set of rules to say that the chairman of a panel can recommend to Parliament when it is not feasible or necessary to call a meeting of the committee for extension of tenure.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said since Parliament is in session and MPs are available, Mitra, who heads the panel, can call a meeting of the committee today or tomorrow and after seeking its authorisation come to the House with a resolution seeking an extension of tenure.

Jaitley, however, disagreed saying the government was keen on getting views of the committee on key economic legislations and asked if the Opposition parties wanted the committee or were keen to dissolve it.

The Committee, as per the mandate decided in the last session of Parliament, was to submit its report on the last day of the first week of the Winter Session of Parliament, which is November 28.

Anand Sharma (Cong) said the present situation was a creation of the government. "Two members (of the committee) were included in the Council of Minister which led to stalling of work (of the panel) which led to the delay," he said.

"All members are in Delhi. Nothing prevents the chairman to convene a meeting and come to the House. Let the committee meet and seek extra time. You (Mitra) can call the meeting today," he said.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said Rajeeve has raised a procedural issue but the House is supreme and can decide it.

Mitra, he said, has not refuted Rajeeve's contention that the issue of extension was not discussed in the committee meeting.

The options, he said, left were either Mitra withdraws the resolution or the House decides on the issue. "After all, House is supreme. We can decide. What is the problem."

Jaitley said, "Either the House extends the (tenure of the) committee or dissolves the committee...we want the benefit of the committee."

Mitra said the committee gets dissolved on November 28 if the House does not extend the time.

Yechury and Sharma, however, wanted Kurien to clearly rule that this will not be cited as a precedence in future. This was agreed to by Kurien.

When he put the motion to vote, Yechury said members have the right to move amendments to it.

The Deputy Chairman the ruled that amendments, if any, should have been moved a day earlier.

The motion extending the term of the select committee was then carried by voice vote.

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