How a bill is passed in India?

9 Dec 2021  Read 5855 Views

“Parliament has been my temple, Constitution my holy book 📖”, as once said by Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee in his last address to the nation. Well! All we can say is that in the Indian democracy, Parliament is indeed a temple and Constitution, a sacred textbook. It is obvious that the role of the Indian Parliament is underestimated, but it plays a very significant role in the country’s legislative process by way of enactments.

How did legislation begin?

India has a recorded legal history starting from the Vedic ages. Law as emerging from the Vedas, the Upanishads and other religious texts, has been a fertile field constantly refined by practitioners from different Hindu philosophical schools and later by Jains and Buddhists. Subsequently, secular laws rampant that formed the basis of the current common law system. No sooner, when India was ruled by the Britishers, a common law system based on recorded judicial precedents was introduced in India by the British East India Company.

At the dawn of the pre-independence phase and the emergence of the post-independence period, the Parliament decided on a document that must be crafted in order to guide the young nation and this idea fell on the keen legal mind of B. R. Ambedkar. The Indian Constitution then, under Article 246 and Schedule VII granted the power to the Parliament and State Legislatures to make laws. Before jumping on to the procedure on how a bill is passed, let’s take a look at the different types of bills passed in the Parliament such as ordinary bill, money bill, financial bill and Constitutional Amendment Bill etc. Read this article to know more! 🤯

Types of Bills passed by the Parliament

Now, let’s discuss the stages of passing each of these bills in the Parliament one by one.

How an ordinary bill is passed?

Whenever an ordinary bill is passed through Lok Sabha, it undergoes three readings. 

  1. The First Reading- A minister or a member of the House introduces the bill in either house of the Parliament. He/ she must seek leave (permission) before introducing the bill, then he reads the title and objective of the bill. Subsequently, the bill is published in the Gazette of India, i.e.; after its introduction. It is also important to note that at this stage, no discussion on the bill takes place.

  1. Second Reading- 

  1. Stage of General Discussion. At this point in time four actions can be taken by the house on the bill:
     

  1. It may take the bill into consideration immediately or on some other fixed date

  2. It may refer the bill to a select committee of the House for scrutiny. 

  3. It may refer the bill to a joint committee of the two Houses. Joint Committee has members from both the Houses.

  4. It may circulate the bill to evoke public opinion
     

  1. Committee Stage:
     

  1. A select committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with specific areas or issues in a parliamentary democracy. (India)

  2. Select Committee examines the bill thoroughly & deliberately, each clause by clause.

  3. It has the power to amend its provisions, but without altering the principles underlying it. After finishing up with the scrutiny and discussion, the committee reports the bill back to the House.

  1. Consideration Stage:

  1. After the select committee sends the bill back to the House, the House considers the provisions of the Bill clause by clause.

  2. Each clause is discussed and voted upon separately.

  3. The members can even move amendments and if accepted, they do become part of the bill.

    3.Third Reading- 

At this third stage, either of these takes place:

  1. Acceptance of the Bill (If the majority of the members present and voting accept the bill, the bill is referred to as passed by the House). No amendments to the bill at this phase are allowed.

  2. Rejection of the Bill. Also, a bill is said to have been passed by Parliament only if both the Houses have agreed to it.

When an ordinary bill is passed through Rajya Sabha, one of these four actions will be taken:

  1. It may pass the bill as sent by the Lower House or Lok Sabha (i.e.; without amendments)

  2. It may pass the bill with amendments and return it to the lower House for reconsideration

  3. It may reject the bill altogether

  4. It may not take any action and thus keep the bill pending

  5. The bill is deemed to have been passed if both the houses accept the bill and the amendments

  6. If the second house takes no action for 6 months, a deadlock appears which is acted upon through a joint sitting (summoned by President) of both the houses.

President’s Assent- Any one of these three can be taken by the President:

  1. The President can give his assent to the bill (Subsequent to which the bill becomes an act and is placed on statute book)

  2. Or may withhold his assent to the bill (The bill terminates and does not become an act)

May return the bill for reconsideration. Also, President only enjoys ‘Suspensive Veto.’ According to Merriam- Webster dictionary meaning; “a veto by which a law is merely suspended until reconsidered by the legislature and becomes a law if repassed by an ordinary majority”.

How a Money Bill is passed?

Money bill unlike ordinary bill is introduced only in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of President which is necessary. After this bill is passed in lower House, it is moved to the Upper House that only has limited powers so, it cannot reject or amend the bill.

Powers of Rajya Sabha in case of money bill:

  1. Rajya Sabha has to return the bill within 14 days with or without recommendations of the amendments

  2. If it does not return the bill within the prescribed days, the bill is deemed to have been passed

  3. Lok Sabha may or may not accept the amendments suggested by Rajya Sabha.

After passing through both the houses, the President’s assent is required. He can take two actions:

  1. Give assent

  2. Withhold assent but President can’t return the bill for reconsideration

How a Constitutional Amendment Bill is passed?

One thing that you must remember is that a constitutional amendment bill is passed only by the Parliament and not by the State Legislatures.

  1. The bill is either introduced by a minister or by a private member.

  2. It must be passed in each House by a special majority (i.e.; more than 50%) of the total membership of the House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting

  3. There is no provision for joint sitting in case of deadlock.

  4. Also, if the bill tends to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, it must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of the House present and voting

  5. He must give his assent but can’t return or withhold the bill, unlike ordinary bills.

Conclusion

The legislative procedure in India for the Parliament requires that proposed bills pass through the two legislative houses of the Indian Parliament whereas the legislative procedure for states with bicameral legislatures requires that proposed bills be passed, at least in the Vidhan Sabha. For states with unicameral legislatures, laws and bills need to be passed only in the state's Vidhan Sabha as they don't have a Vidhan Parishad. Hence, the Parliament legislates with the use of governmental acts that are introduced into the Indian Constitution only after the draft bills are passed by the Parliament.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 108 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Curator at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) & she is a patent analyst. She has pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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