Notification and amended FEMA regulations can be altered or rejected by Parliament, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

Even if the motion is defeated in Parliament, the BJP and the CPI(M) will make another attempt to stall the decision when the notification on the FDI in retail and the amended foreign exchange regulations are tabled in Parliament.

Hearing a public interest litigation petition against the FDI recently, the Supreme Court said foreign investors could not get into multi-brand retail unless the government amended the regulations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and placed them in both Houses of Parliament.

Following this ruling, the Reserve Bank of India amended the FEMA regulations; subsequently, the government notified the decision to permit foreign investment in multi-brand retail on October 3.

At separate press briefings here on Thursday, BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said they would press for a vote in both Houses on the amended regulations. Mr. Prasad wanted the government to explain why it had not tabled the notification yet. Any amendment to the FEMA regulations could be altered or disapproved by both Houses.

Mr. Yechury said any amendment to regulations under Sections 47 and 48 of the FEMA should be placed before the 15th sitting of the first session after the amendments were made. “That means, by December 13. Once these are tabled, they have to be disposed of through voting within 30 days.”

Owing to its obduracy, the government would have to face a vote on the issue twice — when the FDI issue came up for voting after a debate, and again after the RBI amendments were tabled in Parliament to amend the FEMA regulations to allow FDI in retail, he said.

The amendments, once tabled, had to be disposed of through voting in 30 days. “The government cannot escape bringing an amendment. We do not know why it is not agreeing to it [voting],” Mr. Yechury said.

Scheduling the next hearing for January 22, the Supreme Court told the petitioner: “You are assuming that it [the amendments] won’t be placed before Parliament. Your assumption is ill-founded. We would know about it only after the winter session of Parliament… Let’s see whether it is placed before Parliament or not and then we will see.”

“They are at their own peril. They can take risk. If their action does not stand in Parliament, they made the policy at their own peril,” the court further said, when the petitioner argued that it should intervene as a parliamentary committee had opposed FDI in retail.

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