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Interim Budget unconstitutional: Oppn

February 03, 2004 11:33 IST
Last Updated: February 03, 2004 12:12 IST

The presentation of the Interim Budget (General) for 2004-05 was delayed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after Congress and other Opposition parties raised certain objections to its introduction.

As soon as the House assembled at 1100 hours for the presentation of the budget by Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, Congress chief whip Priyaranjan Das Munshi said the statute made no reference to an Interim Budget except in cases of emergency like external aggression or natural disaster.

The Interim Budget is unconstitutional, the Opposition leaders said.

Das Munshi, joined by CPI(M) leader Somnath Chatterjee, said at this juncture no such situation existed and the BJP-led government only wanted to woo the voters for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Chatterjee said the first session in a year should have been preceded by the President's address to the joint sitting of two Houses which has not been followed.

He said irrespective of adjournment sine die or prorogation of the winter session of Parliament, the present session was the first in the current year and it should have been preceded by the President's address.

This was totally unconstitutional sitting of the House and in violation of constitutional provisions, he said.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and the leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi were present.

Deputy leader of Congress party Shivraj Patil made similar points saying this was the first session of the year after the winter session was adjourned sine die.

"What kind of tricks the Government is playing," he asked and asserted the prime minister should have sent a communication to the President for proroguing the previous session.

He accused the government of announcing sops ahead of the elections without taking Parliament into confidence.

The oppositions aid that the government had played a trick on Parliament.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the government had thrown provisions of the Constitution to the winds only to garner votes.

Countering opposition charges, amid a lot of commotion in the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in 1996-97, an Interim Budget was presented by then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh as also by the Vajpayee government in 1998-99.

She said the word sine die meant that the House has been adjourned and can be reconvened at any stage unless it is not prorogued.

So this cannot be termed as a new session, Swaraj said.

According to Kaul and Shakdhar, if the House after being adjourned sine die is reconvened, then it is called the second part of the last session, she said.

Amidst heated exchanges between the Opposition and the Treasury benches, Swaraj said Speaker Manohar Joshi could safely give a ruling that this session was the second part of the winter session which had been adjourned sine die.

There are three precedents of such kind of a situation, she said.

Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar said there was no doubt that this is the first session of the new year and democracy cannot be run by putting forward distorted arguments.

Law Minister Arun Jaitley said the issue should be left to the Speaker to take a final decision on arguments put forward by the two sides.

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