Re-vote on Constitution Amendment Bill

New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, Speaker Meira Kumar today ordered a re-vote on a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha as confusion prevailed among members on the voting process. CPI(M) member A Sampath moved amendment to the Constitution (One Hundred and Eleventh Amendment) Bill that seeks to make the right to form cooperatives a fundamental right.

Trouble began soon after Samapth`s amendment to Clause 2 of the Bill was negatived and the Speaker put the clause to vote. As many as 276 members voted – 235 in favour of Clause 2, 35 against and the rest abstained. Rule books were referred to amid confusion among members over the status of Clause 2 of the Constitution Amendment Bill, and a section felt that Sampath`s amendments were carried.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar conveyed to the Lok Sabha Secretariat officials that a large number of members favoured that the voting be carried out again. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal requested the Speaker to call for a division again as there was some confusion among members over the Clause. The rules of procedure state that each clause of a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution has to be put to vote separately and be passed by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

After over five minutes of consultations, the Speaker said she would take the sense of the House on whether a division has to be carried out again. Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) opposed the move. However, a majority of the members favoured a re-vote. The Speaker said she was ordering a division again as a special case and this should not be quoted as a precedent. The second division on Clause 2 saw 369 members voting in favour and 16 against. The Constitution Amendment Bill was finally passed with 394 members voting in favour and one abstaining.