Law Making Procedure in Parliament
The primary function of every legislature is to make laws for the citizens of the country. The law making-process always follows a definite procedure, some of them are mentioned in the constitution while others have evolved gradually from conventions. The process of law-making is technical and systematic.
The draft of the law initially proposed is known as a bill. The bill has to encounter thorough scrutiny and consideration, after which it finally receives the assent of the President and gets enacted as a Law. Bills can be categorized as Government Bills, the ones that are introduced by Ministers, and Private Member’s Bills that are proposed by non-ministers.
The government bills and the private member’s bills can be further categorized as:
- Ordinary Bill: They deal with every matter except financial matters (Article 107 and 108).
- Money Bill: The money bill deals with financial matters like taxation, revenue, budget, public expenditure, etc. (Article 110)
- Financial Bill: These bills constitute financial matters but are distinct from Money Bills. ( Article 117 and 117)
- Constitutional Amendment Bill: These bills deal with the provisions of the amendment of the constitution. (Article 368).
All these bills have to undergo specific procedures to be finally enacted as laws. The step by step procedures followed by them are as follows:
Stages for passing an Ordinary Bill:
- An ordinary Bill can be introduced in either house of the legislature by either a minister or a non-minister.
- If a Bill is being introduced by a private member, he has to state his intention behind the introduction of the Bill and ask for leave to introduce it.
- The bill is introduced by reading the title and the objective behind it.
- After the introduction of the bill, it is published in the Official Gazette of India, even before the introduction of a bill, it can be published in the Official Gazette, after taking proper permission of the speaker.
After the introduction of the Bill the member in charge of the bill will initiate one of the following procedures:
- The bill may be taken into immediate consideration or the date must be decided when the bill is to be considered.
- The bill can also be referred to the Select Committee of the House.
- The bill can be referred to the Joint Committee of the House with the concurrence of the other House.
- It can also be circulated to elicit public opinion.
- In the Committee stage, the Bill is thoroughly considered by the Select Committee, they examine every clause of the Bill in detail.
- The committee is within its rights to amend the Bill but without altering the original provisions underlying the Bill.
- They finally submit their report to the House after having thoroughly considered the Bill.
The House after receiving the report from the Select Committee, considers and deliberates further on the Bill. It is scrutinized and each clause of the bill is discussed and voted upon separately.
The final fate of the bill is decided at this stage. No further discussion or consideration regarding the bill is permitted at this stage, and no amendments to the bill are allowed.
- The bill is considered as passed in the House where it was introduced if the majority of the members present and voting accept the bill.
- It can also be rejected if not voted by the members of the House.
Bill in the Second House
After being passed by the first House the Bill is sent to the second House, in this House as well the Bill has to pass through all the three stages (First Reading, Second Reading, and the Third Reading) the second House can undertake the following courses of actions
- They can pass the bill as sent by the first house without making any amendments. In this case, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses and is finally sent to the President for his assent.
- They can suggest amendments in the Bill and send it back to the first house for reconsideration.
- They can reject the bill.
- They can keep the bill pending by neither ratifying it nor rejecting it. If the second house either rejects the bill or takes no action for six months, a deadlock is deemed to have taken place. The president summons a joint sitting of both the houses to resolve this deadlock.
Assent of the President
After the Bills are passed by both the Houses they are sent to the President for his assent. The President may:
- Give his assent to the bill and the bill becomes an act.
- He may withhold his assent to the bill, but the bill does not become an act.
- Or may return the bill for reconsideration to the Houses by the exercise of his suspensive veto. The House is at their discretion to make amendments and when they send it back again with or without amendments the President is bound to give his assent.
Stages of passing a Money Bill
A money bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha with the prior permission of the President and it can only be introduced by a minister.
- A money bill is first passed in the Lok Sabha where it is introduced gradually following all the steps.
- The Lok Sabha then passes the bill to the Rajya Sabha for their approval; the Rajya Sabha has to return the bill within 14 days with or without amendments. The Lok Sabha is at their discretion to accept or reject the amendments suggested.
- If they fail to meet the prescribed time frame the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses.
- When the Bill is passed by both the Houses it is sent to the President for his assent.
- He may give his assent to the bill or withhold it, however, cannot return a money bill for reconsideration.
- The bill becomes an act after it receives the assent of the President.
The procedure of passing a Constitutional Amendment Bill
- It can be introduced in either of the two houses of the parliament by a minister or a private member without the prior approval of the President.
- The bill undergoes all three stages, it must be passed by each of the two houses with a special majority which is more than 50 percent of the total membership of the house, and two-thirds of the members of the House should be present and voting.
- If the bill concerns the amendment of federal provisions it must be ratified by half of the state legislatures by a simple majority of the members present and voting.
- After having been passed by both the Houses the bill is sent to the President for his approval, he cannot reject or withhold his assent, he must give his assent following which the bill becomes a law.
These are the steps through which all the bills introduced by the legislature have to undergo. The bills are thoroughly reconsidered and scrutinized before they become an act to avoid any hasty legislation. The bills are a representation of the interests of the citizens in the country, a responsible and accountable procedure of passing bills will ensure the protection of their interests and make Indian democracy a success.