The Parliament – Legislative Procedure in Parliament -5

LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURE IN PARLIAMENT

The legislative procedure is identical in both the Houses of Parliament. Every bill has to pass through the same stages in each House. A bill is a proposal for legislation and it becomes an act or law when duly enacted.

Table 22.3 Public Bill vs Private Bill

Public Bill Private Bill

  1. It is introduced in the Parliament by a minister. 1. It is introduced by any member of Parliament other

than a minister.

  1. It reflects of the policies of the government (ruling party). 2. It reflects the stand of opposition party on public matter.
  2. It has greater chance to be approved by the Parliament. 3. It has lesser chance to be approved by the

Parliament.

  1. Its rejection by the House amounts to the exp-ression of want of parliamentary confidence in the government and may lead to its resignation.
  2. Its rejection by the House has no implication on the parliamentary confidence in the government or its

resignation.

  1. Its introduction in the House requires seven days’ notice. 5. Its introduction in the House requires one month’s notice.
  2. It is drafted by the concerned department in consultation with the law department. 6. Its drafting is the responsibility of the member concerned.

Bills introduced in the Parliament are of two kinds: public bills and private bills (also known as

government bills and private members’ bills respectively). Though both are governed by the same

general procedure and pass through the same stages in the House, they differ in various respects as

shown in Table 22.3.

The bills introduced in the Parliament can also be classified into four categories:

  1. Ordinary bills, which are concerned with any matter other than financial subjects.
  2. Money bills, which are concerned with the financial matters like taxation, public expenditure, etc.
  3. Financial bills, which are also concerned with financial matters (but are different from money bills).
  4. Constitution amendment bills, which are concerned with the amendment of the provisions of the Constitution.

Ordinary Bills

Every ordinary bill has to pass through the following five stages in the Parliament before it finds a

place on the Statute Book:

  1. First Reading An ordinary bill can be introduced in either House of Parliament. Such a bill can be

introduced either by a minister or by any other member. The member who wants to introduce the bill

has to ask for the leave of the House. When the House grants leave to introduce the bill, the mover of

the bill introduces it by reading its title and objectives. No discussion on the bill takes place at this

stage. Later, the bill is published in the Gazette of India. If a bill is published in the Gazette before its

introduction, leave of the House to introduce the bill is not necessary.18 The introduction of the bill

and its publication in the Gazette constitute the first reading of the bill.

  1. Second Reading During this stage, the bill receives not only the general but also the detailed

scrutiny and assumes its final shape. Hence, it forms the most important stage in the enactment of a

bill. In fact, this stage involves three more sub-stages, namely, stage of general discussion, committee

stage and consideration stage.

(a) Stage of General Discussion The printed copies of the bill are distributed to all the members.

The principles of the bill and its provisions are discussed generally, but the details of the bill are not

discussed.

At this stage, the House can take any one of the following four actions:

(i) It may take the bill into consideration immediately or on some other fixed date;

(ii) It may refer the bill to a select committee of the House;

(iii) It may refer the bill to a joint committee of the two Houses; and

(iv) It may circulate the bill to elicit public opinion.

A Select Committee consists of members of the House where the bill has originated and a joint

committee consists of members of both the Houses of Parliament.

(b) Committee Stage The usual practice is to refer the bill to a select committee of the House. This committee examines the bill thoroughly and in detail, clause by clause. It can also amend its provisions, but without altering the principles underlying it. After completing the scrutiny and discussion, the committee reports the bill back to the House.

(c) Consideration Stage The House, after receiving the bill from the select committee, considers the

provisions of the bill clause by clause. Each clause is discussed and voted upon separately. The

members can also move amendments and if accepted, they become part of the bill.

  1. Third Reading At this stage, the debate is confined to the acceptance or rejection of the bill as a

whole and no amendments are allowed, as the general principles underlying the bill have already

been scrutinised during the stage of second reading. If the majority of members present and voting

accept the bill, the bill is regarded as passed by the House. Thereafter, the bill is authenticated by the

presiding officer of the House and transmitted to the second House for consideration and approval. A

bill is deemed to have been passed by the Parliament only when both the Houses have agreed to it,

either with or without amendments.

  1. Bill in the Second House In the second House also, the bill passes through all the three stages, that

is, first reading, second reading and third reading. There are four alternatives before this House:

(a) it may pass the bill as sent by the first house (ie, without amendments);

(b) it may pass the bill with amendments and return it to the first House for reconsideration;

(c) it may reject the bill altogether; and

(d) it may not take any action and thus keep the bill pending.

If the second House passes the bill without any amendments or the first House accepts the

amendments suggested by the second House, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both the

Houses and the same is sent to the president for his assent. On the other hand, if the first House rejects

the amendments suggested by the second House or the second House rejects the bill altogether or the

second House does not take any action for six months, a deadlock is deemed to have taken place. To

resolve such a deadlock, the president can summon a joint sitting of the two Houses. If the majority of

members present and voting in the joint sitting approves the bill, the bill is deemed to have been

passed by both the Houses.

  1. Assent of the President Every bill after being passed by both Houses of Parliament either singly

or at a joint sitting, is presented to the president for his assent. There are three alternatives before the president:

(a) he may give his assent to the bill; or

(b) he may withhold his assent to the bill; or

(c) he may return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses.

If the president gives his assent to the bill, the bill becomes an act and is placed on the Statute Book.

If the President withholds his assent to the bill, it ends and does not become an act. If the President

returns the bill for reconsideration and if it is passed by both the Houses again with or without

amendments and presented to the President for his assent, the president must give his assent to the

bill. Thus, the President enjoys only a “suspensive veto.”

Money Bills

Article 110 of the Constitution deals with the definition of money bills. It states that a bill is deemed

to be a money bill if it contains ‘only’ provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters:

  1. The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
  2. The regulation of the borrowing of money by the Union government;
  3. The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the contingency fund of India, the payment of

moneys into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund;

  1. The appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  2. Declaration of any expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or increasing the

amount of any such expenditure;

  1. The receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of

India or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a state; or

  1. Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified above.

However, a bill is not to be deemed to be a money bill by reason only that it provides for:

  1. the imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or
  2. the demand or payment of fees for licenses or fees for services rendered; or
  3. the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority

or body for local purposes.

If any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok

Sabha is final. His decision in this regard cannot be questioned in any court of law or in the either

House of Parliament or even the president. When a money bill is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for

recommendation and presented to the president for assent, the Speaker endorses it as a money bill.

The Constitution lays down a special procedure for the passing of money bills in the Parliament. A

money bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and that too on the recommendation of the

president. Every such bill is considered to be a government bill and can be introduced only by a minister.

After a money bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for its

consideration. The Rajya Sabha has restricted powers with regard to a money bill. It cannot reject or

amend a money bill. It can only make the recommendations. It must return the bill to the Lok Sabha

within 14 days, wither with or without recommendations. The Lok Sabha can either accept or reject

all or any of the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha.

If the Lok Sabha accepts any recommendation, the bill is then deemed to have been passed by both the

Houses in the modified form. If the Lok Sabha does not accept any recommendation, the bill is then

deemed to have passed by both the Houses in the form originally passed by the Lok Sabha without any change.

If the Rajya Sabha does not return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, the bill is deemed to have

been passed by both the Houses in the form originally passed by the Lok Sabha. Thus, the Lok Sabha

has more powers than Rajya Sabha with regard to a money bill. On the other hand, both the Houses

have equal powers with regard to an ordinary bill.

Finally, when a money bill is presented to the president, he may either give his assent to the bill or

withhold his assent to the bill but cannot return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses. Normally,

the president gives his assent to a money bill as it is introduced in the Parliament with his prior permission.

Table 22.4 shows the differences between the procedures for the enactment of ordinary bills and money bills.

Financial Bills

Financial bills are those bills that deal with fiscal matters, that is, revenue or expenditure. However,

the Constitution uses the term ‘financial bill’ in a technical sense. Financial bills are of three kinds:

  1. Money bills—Article 110
  2. Financial bills (I)—Article 117 (1)
  3. Financial bills (II)—Article 117 (3)

This classification implies that money bills are simply a species of financial bills. Hence, all money

bills are financial bills but all financial bills are not money bills. Only those financial bills are money

bills which contain exclusively those matters which are mentioned in Article 110 of the Constitution.

These are also certified by the Speaker of Lok Sabha as money bills. The financial bills (I) and (II),

on the other hand, have been dealt with in Article 117 of the Constitution.

Table 22.4 Ordinary Bill Vs Money Bill

Ordinary Bill Money Bill

  1. It can be introduced either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. 1. It can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha.
  2. It can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member. 2. It can be introduced only by a minister.
  3. It is introduced without the recommendation of the president. 3. It can be introduced only on the recommendation of the President.
  4. It can be amended or rejected by the Rajya Sabha. 4. It cannot be amended or rejected by the Rajya Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha should return the bill with or without recommendations, which may be accepted or rejected

by the Lok Sabha.

  1. It can be detained by the Rajya Sabha for a maximum period of six months. 5. It can be detained by the Rajya Sabha for a maximum period of 14 days only.
  2. It does not require the certification of the Speaker when transmitted to the Rajya Sabha (if it has originated in the Lok Sabha). 6. It requires the certification of the Speaker when transmitted to the Rajya Sabha.
  3. It is sent for the President’s assent only after being approved by both the Houses. In case of a deadlock due to disagreement between the two Houses, a joint sitting of both the houses can be summoned by the president to resolve the deadlock.
  4. It is sent for the President’s assent even if it is approved by only Lok Sabha. There is no chance of

any disagreement between the two Houses and hence, there is no provision of joint sitting of both the Houses

in this regard.

  1. Its defeat in the Lok Sabha may lead to the resignation of the government (if it is introduced by a minister).
  2. Its defeat in the Lok Sabha leads to the resignation of the government.
  3. It can be rejected, approved, or returned for reconsideration by the President.
  4. It can be rejected or approved but cannot be returned for reconsideration by the President.

Financial Bills (I) A financial bill (I) is a bill that contains not only any or all the matters mentioned

in Article 110, but also other matters of general legislation. For instance, a bill that contains a

borrowing clause, but does not exclusively deal with borrowing. In two respects, a financial bill (I)

is similar to a money bill—(a) both of them can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the

Rajya Sabha, and (b) both of them can be introduced only on the recommendation of the president. In

all other respects, a financial bill (I) is governed by the same legislative procedure applicable to an

ordinary bill. Hence, it can be either rejected or amended by the Rajya Sabha (except that an

amendment other than for reduction or abolition of a tax cannot be moved in either House without the

recommendation of the president). In case of a disagreement between the two Houses over such a bill,

the president can summon a joint sitting of the two Houses to resolve the deadlock. When the bill is

presented to the President, he can either give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the bill or

return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses.

Financial Bills (II) A financial bill (II) contains provisions involving expenditure from the

Consolidated Fund of India, but does not include any of the matters mentioned in Article 110. It is

treated as an ordinary bill and in all respects, it is governed by the same legislative procedure which

is applicable to an ordinary bill. The only special feature of this bill is that it cannot be passed by

either House of Parliament unless the President has recommended to that House the consideration of

the bill. Hence, financial bill (II) can be introduced in either House of Parliament and

recommendation of the President is not necessary for its introduction. It can be either rejected or

amended by either House of Parliament. In case of a disagreement between the two Houses over such

a bill, the President can summon a joint sitting of the two Houses to resolve the deadlock. When the

bill is presented to the President, he can either give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the

bill or return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses.