NEW DELHI: On Day One of the Budget session, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government reached out to the Opposition, with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seeking the BJP’s help in getting “key legislation — that have an international ramification — passed”.
Mukherjee held a meeting with BJP leaders L K Advani, leaders of Opposition in the two Houses of Parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and Yashwant Sinha to impress upon them about the “urgency of the matter”. He was assisted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal.
Mukherjee referred to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2011, and the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011, both of which are with the Standing Committee on Finance. Sinha, who heads the committee, was requested specifically to be present at the meeting for it.
Mukherjee, sources said, explained to the BJP leaders that “some of the provisions of the two bills are linked to certain international treaties” and hence “there cannot be a delay in passing the two bills, even as he sought the BJP’s support in this”.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2011, amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, which provides for “control and regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances” and the “forfeiture of property related to illicit traffic of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”. The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011, on the other hand, expands the definition of offence under “money laundering”, and introduces corresponding law, linking the provision of Indian law with those of foreign countries.
The BJP said it would consider the request, but didn’t give any commitment for the smooth passage of the bills.
Mukherjee also referred to a third bill, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2011, presently with the Standing Committee on Home Affairs, and asked the BJP leaders if they could help ensure its passage at an early date.