SC or Prez may take final call on changes to Fema

Dec 07 2012, 03:47 IST
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SummaryUnless BSP supremo Mayawati’s decision to vote in favour of the government on the issue of foreign direct investment in retail and a possible change in the SP’s stance come to the government’s rescue in in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, the question of whether amendments of rules/regulations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act or Fema need the approval of Parliament would finally be left either for the Supreme Court to decide on or the President who might call for a joint session of both Houses for a reconciliation of their views.

and regulations would be followed. The apex court had remarked that policy making was the domain of the government, “but the executive must hear the voice of the legislature…”

The next hearing in the Supreme Court is scheduled on January 22.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has no doubts about how Fema amendments are carried out. “Anyone who has read Section 48 of Fema will know that for modifications in rules/regulations, the consent of both Houses of Parliament is required. Every MP has a right to make amendments or modification.”

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid doesn’t quite agree. “Fema is not being amended; there is a delegated legislation (which is being amended). An amendment requires a vote in the House. That is not what is happening. So Fema is not being amended but consequential changes, subordinate legislation which normally are placed on the table of the House (and) as time passes, (they) get amended.”

Basudeb Acharia, CPM leader in the Lok Sabha: “We will definitely go ahead with Fema modifications sometime next week, after the Rajya Sabha debate on FDI. There is ample time for our party to challenge the Fema modification in the Lok Sabha.” His statement is on the basis of the norm that any change in Fema rules/regulations can be sought to modified by the members within 30 days of the same being placed in the House.

The government tabled the changes on November 30, but the Speaker while clubbing the debate on FDI decision and Fema amendments had restricted the window for members to seek modifications to four days. This, sources say, is the Speaker’s discretion that cannot be challenged in court.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said his party hasn’t decided yet whether it mould move an amendment to the modification in the regulation. Fema was an act passed in the winter session of Parliament in 1999. It replaced the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.

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