The Constitution Amendment Bill to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST), originally mooted by the UPA, was passed by 352 votes against 37 after the government rejected the opposition demand of referring it to Standing Committee.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not present in the House at the time of voting. Opposition members moved several amendments to the Bill which were negated. Some members like Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress and B Mahtab did not move some of the amendments after assurances by the Finance Minister.

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GST, which is proposed to be implemented from April 1, 2016, will subsume excise, service tax, state VAT, entry tax, octroi and other state levies.

Replying to the debate on the Bill before Congress walked out, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the proposal to reform the indirect taxes has been pending for the last 12 years and his predecessor P Chidambaram had also mooted it during UPA rule.

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Rejecting the Opposition demand for referring the Bill to the Standing Committee, he cited the panel has already examined various provisions of the new legislation and several of its suggestions have been incorporated.

"A bill is not a dancing instrument that it will be jumping from Standing Committee to Standing Committee," he added.

Commending the Bill, he asserted this is a "very important moment" because the whole process of indirect taxation in India will change once the GST is implemented.

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