The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) was introduced by the Union Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal in the Parliament (Lok Sabha) on August 10, 2017, on the penultimate day of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
Besides the content of the Bill, there were disruptions among the opposition on the cavalier manner in which the Bill was tabled without distributing the copies among members before the introduction. However, despite the commotion, the Bill was allowed to be introduced.
Towards the end of the day, a motion was moved to refer the Bill to a Joint Committee by Arjun Meghwal. The motion also named representation of twenty members from Lok Sabha in the thirty-member committee. The Minister further informed that the committee would submit its report to the house by the last day of the first week of the next session.
During the discussion, Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal noted that he was not opposed to the introduction of the Bill but opposed the formation of the Joint Committee on FRDI. In his speech, he questioned the need for a Joint Committee when there is already a standing committee on finance, which is empowered to go into the Bill and also has representation from all political parties. He also criticised the formation of multiple committees on various issues bypassing existing standing committees. He suspected that the government has either some hidden agenda or is worried that the Bill will be blocked in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling party does not enjoy the majority.
Prof. Sugata Roy of Trinamool Congress, who is a member of both the standing committee on finance and the Joint Committee on FRDI Bill, agreed with the observations of Mahtab and added that the standing committee is being circumvented in a quest to secure passing of the Bill in both the houses, which are bound by the report of the Joint Committee. He reiterated that this is a process to weaken the standing committee while reminding about the same process adopted for the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill. He also pointed out that moving such a motion on the penultimate day of the session eliminates scope for the discussion on this important Bill.
Responding to the points raised by these members, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S.S. Ahluwalia defended the formation of the Joint Committee by saying that it only gives more leverage for discussions and exposure of the Bill through discussion with stakeholders and the government. He added that unlike the Standing Committee, the Joint Committee’s recommendations are mandatory. To which Mahtab replied that the majority of the members of the committee belong to the ruling party and any opposition and suggestions made by the opposition would be voted out.
In a hurry to move the Bill to the Joint Committee, the government avoided the introductory reading of the Bill, which would have initiated a debate on at-least the principles of the Bill, if not the details of it. Further, one cannot but notice that the Bill was introduced towards the end of the penultimate day of the session, thus giving credence to the doubts raised by the members that it is a step towards gaining the majority in both houses. This argument has been refuted by the government and its ministers saying a Joint Committee would only increase the scope for discussions among parliamentarians and stakeholders. Despite such reassurance, one cannot but make a comparison to the manner in which Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was passed.
Since passing the motion in the Lok Sabha, the proposal for Joint Committee was moved and concurred in the Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2017, and the committee was constituted on August 19, 2017, under the chairpersonship of Bhupender Yadav. The committee met briefly on September 6, 2017. Though the content of the discussions is not available in the public domain, the committee has recently invited suggestions from the stakeholders and public till September 29, 2017.