In a rare development, the Budget session of Parliament was tonight prorogued to enable the government to issue an Ordinance for authorising expenditure beyond April one in the centrally-ruled Uttarakhand in view of the political crisis in the state.
The decision to recommend such a course was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh following questions over the status of the Appropriation Bill which was declared as passed by the Speaker in the Uttarakhand Assembly under controversial circumstances.
The Budget session, which began on February 23, has been recess since March 16 and was to meet again on April 25.
With only two days left, government would not have been in a position to issue an Ordinance for drawing funds from the Consolidated Fund to enable the state to meet its expenditure needs beyond April one since it is under President's Rule.
After the CCPA meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu met President Pranab Mukherejee to brief him about the decision taken in the CCPA as well as developments that took place in Uttarakhand. The President issued the order late in the night.
Under Article 357(1)(c) of the Constitution the President can authorise, when the House of the People is not in session, the expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State pending the sanction of such expenditure by Parliament. For this the House of the People that is the Lok Sabha has not to be in the midst of a session. Once the President prorogues the Houses, a fresh session will have to be called.
On the Uttarakhand issue, the Centre has been maintaining Congress government in the state was reduced to minority on March 18 when 35 MLAs in the Assembly voted against the Appropriation Bill and 32 in favour. These 35 MLAs comprised of 27 from the BJP and the rest were rebel Congress legislators.
"On 18th March the majority was declared to be a minority and vice versa, and on 27th March the composition of the House was attempted to be changed in violation of the Constitution to convert a minority into a majority. "This is an unprecedented case of a Speaker declaring a failed Appropriation Bill as passed and then failing to certify falsehood. This leaves the State without any approved financial expenditure with effect from 1st April 2016," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said yesterday.
The CCPA meet also gave its nod for prorogation of Rajya Sabha to enable re-issuing the Ordinance bringing changes in the Enemy Property Act, 1968, which is pending in the Upper House after being passed by the Lok Sabha. The Ordinance for amendments in the 47-year-old Enemy Property Act was promulgated on January 8 this year. The Bill to replace the Ordinance was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9 with the government overruling demands by some opposition parties that it be sent to the Standing Committee.
However, it could not get Rajya Sabha's nod and the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, was finally referred to a Select Comittee. As per the Constitution, an ordinance lapses after 42 days from the day a session begins unless a Bill to replace it is cleared by Parliament.