Transaction of budget and financial business...In the 2nd session of 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly
Prof (Dr) Nimai Chand Luwang
The 2nd session of the 12th Manipur legislative Assembly was held from 25th July 2022 to 5th August 2022. It was the main session to pass the full budget for the financial year 2022-2023. There were eleven sittings. Presentation and passing of Budget in the Manipur Legislative Assembly is dealt under Rule 201-217 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Manipur Legislative Assembly. Budget Estimates for 2022-23 was presented to the House by the Chief Minister, Shri N. Biren Singh, on 24th March 2022 during the first session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly. Subsequently, the Chief Minister moved a motion for Vote on Account 2022-23. The same motion of Vote on Account was taken up for consideration and passed on 25thMarch 2022. Surprisingly, the same Budget Estimates 2022-23 was reintroduced in the Manipur Legislative Assembly in the sitting of 25th July 2022, thereby meaning that the Budget for the financial year 2022-23 was introduced and presented twice in the Manipur Legislative Assembly. It puzzled me, can this happen ? Can the Union Finance Minister present the Union Budget for a particular financial year twice in the Parliament in the same manner ?
I have never come across such instances in my Parliamentary experience. A motion for Vote on Account 2022-23 was introduced in the Manipur Legislative Assembly on the sitting of 24th March 2022 and the same was taken up for consideration and passed on the sitting held on 25th March 2022. Again, very surprisingly, another Motion for Vote on Account for the year 2022-23 was moved and passed on 25th July, 2022. Motion for Vote on Account during the financial year 2022-23 was moved and passed twice during a short period of about four months. This is again quite a strange situation.
Rule 204 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Manipur Legislative Assembly provides that “The Budget shall be dealt with by the House in two stages, namely: (i) a general discussion, and (ii) the voting on demands for grants.”
General discussion on Budget Estimates 2022-23 was taken up on 26th July 2022. Two MLAs, namely Shri K. Meghachandra Singh (Cong) and Shri M. Rameswar Singh (NPP) took part in the discussion and Shri N. Biren Singh (Chief Minister) gave reply as Finance Minister. Two MLAs took part in the discussion apart from the Chief Minister. Surprisingly none from the Ruling Party participated.
Discussion and Voting on demands for grants was taken up during eight sittings from 27th July 2022 to 4th August 2022. Fourteen MLAs, namely: Shri K. Meghachandra Singh (Cong), Shri Th. Lokeswar Singh (Cong), Shri Nishikanta Sapam (Ind), Shri Ram Muivah (NPF), Shri M. Rameswar Singh (NPP), Shri K. Ranjit Singh (Cong), Shri Surajkumar Okram (Cong), Shri Kh Joykisan Singh (JD-U), Shri Leishiyo Keishing (NPF), Shri Paolienlal Haokip (KNA), Shri Abdul Nasir (JDU), Th. Shyamkumar Singh (BJP), Shri Kh. Ibomcha Singh (BJP) and Shri O. Ibobi Singh (Cong) participated in the debates and discussions during the course of discussion and voting of the various grants.
Being members of the Opposition, MLAs of the Congress party played the main part and occupied the maximum duration of period of discussion. Barring a few, MLAs from the Ruling Party were mostly present as silent spectators. All Grants for all the Demands were passed unanimously by the House after withdrawal of cut motions. Fourteen MLAs belonging to various parties participated in the discussions and debates while taking up the Discussion for passing of grants of various Demands. Only seven members sitting on the Ruling side took part in the discussion and debates.
Thirty four MLAs failed to avail the opportunity to take part in the debates and discussions in the main Business of passing the Main Budget of the State.
All the Ministers took part in the discussions giving clarifications and announcing policy matters in their respective departments. Appropriation Bill: No money can be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund of India except under appropriation made by law. As soon as the grants have been made by the House, a Bill is introduced to provide for the appropriation from the Consolidated Fund of India for funds required to meet the grants made by the House and the expenditure charged on Consolidated Fund of India, but not exceeding in any case the amount shown in the Statement previously laid before the House.
“The Manipur Appropriation (No 4) Bill, 2022” was introduced by the Chief Minister, Shri N. Biren Singh on the 5th August 2022. The same was taken up for consideration and passing minutes after introduction. Rule 216(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Manipur Legislative Assembly provides that “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the procedure in regard to an Appropriation Bill shall be the same as for Bills generally with such modifications as the Speaker may consider necessary”. Rule 216(2) further provides that “At any time after the introduction of an Appropriation Bill, the Speaker may allot a day or days for the completion of all or any of the stages involved in the passage of the Bill by the House”. Rule 153 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Manipur Legislative Assembly provides that “When a Bill is introduced or on some subsequent occasion, the member in-charge may make one of the following motions in regard to his Bill, namely: that the Bill be taken into consideration provided that no such motion shall be made until after copies of the Bill have been made available for the use of members, and that any member may object to any such motion being made unless copies of the Bill have been made available for [two clear days] before the day on which the motion is made and such objection shall prevail unless the Speaker allows the motion to be made.”
As such, while taking up for consideration and passing of the Appropriation Bill, the provisions of Rule 153 vis-à-vis Rules 216(1) and 216(2) were overlooked which may not be a good precedence for future practices.
Five MLAs, namely, Shri O Ibobi Singh, Shri K Meghandra Singh, Shri Th Lokeshwar singh, Kh Joykisan Singh and Shri K Ranjit Singh took part in the deliberations and discussions in the passing of the Appropriation Bill. The Bill was passed uninamously after the reply and clari- fications by Shri N Biren Singh, Chief Minister.
Disclaimer : The article has been written based on my personal experience. I did not mean to cast aspersions, criticize nor under- mine the functioning of the August House as well as that of its Hon’ble Members. It is solely intended for bringing improvement in the efficiency and functioning of the House in the light of public interest. The writer is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly-4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th