Constitutional Current Affairs - 2020

Rajya Sabha question hour shifted from 11am to 12 noon

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has decided to shift Question Hour in Rajya Sabha from 11 a.m. to 12 noon for the upcoming Winter Session. Thus, Question Hour in Rajya Sabha will be between 12 PM and 1 PM instead of 11 am. As per new rules, the proceeding of the Rajya Sabha will start with ‘Zero Hour’ which will be between 11am to 12 noon. The move aimed to ensure disruption-free proceedings during this segment.

Rules Committee of Parliament had given final nod to the change these timings. Rajya Sabha Secretariat has issued the notification to this effect and it has been communicated to all Ministries.

Reason for shift in timing of Question Hour

Question Hour, which marks the beginning of a day’s proceedings of a House of Parliament, is often witness to disruptions by members who want to raise issues.

Normally, no issues can be raised during the Question Hour except those related to the questions listed for the day. Other issues can be raised during the Zero Hour.

Earlier in 2011, the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha was shifted for a few days to 2-3 pm so that the House could function normally in the first half. But, it was subsequently discontinued and the Question Hour switched back to its usual timing of 11 am.

  • Question Hour: During this time, the members of Parliament ask questions and the ministers usually give answers. There are three kinds of question which can be asked during Question Hour. They are starred, unstarred and short notice. Question Hour is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
  • Zero Hour:  It is a period during which Member of Parliament (MPs) get chance to raise matters of public importance that need immediate attention of the government without any prior notice. It is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure of Parliament and Indian innovation in the field of parliamentary procedure since 1962.

Bombay High Court rules in favour of Vodafone

The Bombay high Court has ruled in favour of Indian unit of Vodafone Group Plc in a INR 3,200 crore transfer pricing dispute. The Court stated that there is no taxable income coming from issuance of shares. The Vodafone India Services Pvt. Ltd. Was involved in a case where the Income Tax department had accused the company of under-pricing the shares in a rights issue to the parent firm for fiscal 2009-2010 and had issued a show-cause notice to Vodafone India in January.
Transfer pricing is defined as the price at which divisions of a company based in different countries, transact with each-other to ensure a fair-price is levied. The judgement correctly addresses the question of applicability of transfer pricing law to share issuance and has thwarted the blatant attempt of tax authorities to tax hypothetical income. The verdict endorses a unanimous view that the income tax authority has no case to defend the transfer pricing adjustment due to undervaluation of share prices. It goes to support the view that income should be generated in the first place to lead to such provisions. It also ensures that secondary adjustment proposed by the tax authorities by re-characterisation of premium as loan is not valid. It is important, as it has wide-scale repercussions on international firms involved in similar tax disputes in India. Even, many Indian companies are contesting such disputes.
The verdict at large will serve as a major boost to the foreign investor sentiment and result in higher FDI for India in future. The industry has welcomed the same and now it remains on the government to accept and abide by the same.