HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW
Author :- SYEDA KHIZRA RIZVI
Private Member Bill versus Government Bill
When a bill is introduced in the house by a minister, it is called public bill or government bill but when the bill is introduced by any other member than a minister, then it is called private member bill. A private member bill can be introduced by both ruling party and opposition Members of Parliament. The other differences between these two are as follows:
- While Government bill needs a 7 Day notice for its introduction, private bill needs the notice tenure of 1 month.
- While Government bill has much chances to get clear, private bills are generally lapsed or withdrawn.
- Depending on the type of government bill and the need for majority to get such bill passed, the government may collapse upon its failure
- Further if a private member desires to introduce a bill, he or she must give notice of his intention to the speaker. For every bill to be passed it is necessary to ask for leave of the House to introduce a Bill.
PROCESS OF PASSING THE ORDINARY BILLS
1) First Reading
In General, there is no debate on introduction of a bill. The person i.e. Minister or MP, who is given a leave to introduce a bill may put forward some broad idea to introduce the bill which is called moving the bill or motion for introduction of the bill. The moving of the ordinary bill can be or cannot be opposed by the opposition. In the case if the introduction of the bill is opposed, speaker may allow one of the opposing members to present the reasons after which the Speaker will put the question to vote.
2) Second Reading
After the introduction, in second stage the bill is open for 4 alternative courses of action:
- As it may be taken into consideration.
- As it may be forwarded to a Select Committee of the House.
- As it may be referred to a Joint Committee of both the houses.
- Or it may be circulated or put on website for purpose of eliciting the public opinion on the matter.
3) Select Committee / Joint Committee
The selection of Select Committee or Joint Committee members are done on the basis of expert knowledge and its members also include the Members from Opposition. If it is a Joint Committee, 1/3 are from the Rajya Sabha then 2/3 members are from Lok Sabha. The report of this committee may be unanimous or of majority opinion in case it is a Majority Opinion, the minority is allowed to give the “Minutes of Dissent” in the report.
4) Clause to Clause Discussion
The submission of the Report by the Select Committee or Joint Committee members is carried by a detailed “Clause to Clause” debate on the bill. This stage is very important as each Clause is taken up by the House and amendments are moved, discussed and disposed of. A bill is taken by “clause by clause” and when every clause is voted, this is known “Second Reading”. Thus, the first two readings of the bill filter and refine the subject matter of the bills.
5) Third Reading
After the second Reading, the house is given enough interval to study the clauses of the said bill. After that the MP or Minister who had moved this bill moves that “the bill is passed”. This is known as Third Reading. It is to be noted that most of the amendments in the third reading are just normally verbal in nature and formal. The discussion is quick and limited. The same three reading process is followed in second house of the parliament. In the second house, there are three steps for the bill:
- As it was passed in the originating house.
- In case it is to be amended.
- In case it is to be rejected.
In case the course of action is same 2 & 3 given above, the bill is returned to the originating house. If the second house does not return it for the period of 6 months to the originating house it is regarded as rejected. Once it is returned to the originating house, the amendments provided by the other house are taken into consideration. Here two options exist.
- Either amendments are accepted. In this case, the originating house sends a message to the other house the information regards to the amendments are accepted.
- Or the amendments are NOT accepted. In this case again the originating house sends a message to the other house the information regards to the amendments are not accepted.
In the second option provided above, which means when both the houses are not in agreement, a joint sitting of the two houses is called by the president.
6) Joint Sittings
Joint Sitting of the houses is mentioned by Article 108 of the Constitution. As per this article, a Joint sitting is notified by the President as his or her intention to summon the both the houses of parliament for the purpose of voting and deliberating on the bill in the following given situations:
- Bill has been passed by one House of parliament and transmitted to the other House and it stands rejected by the other House.
- When both houses disagree as about the amendments to be made in the Bill.
- More than tenure of 6 months elapse from the date of the reception of the Bill by the other House without the Bill being passed.
- It is also noted that if there is a deadlock between the two houses on a Constitution amendment Bill, there cannot exist a joint sitting.
7) Some other important notes
- A bill pending in any other house for the period more than 6 months will stands rejected but does not mean that a bill gets lapsed.
- The bill which lapsed due to dissolution of the Lok Sabha, gets Lapsed and in such case no joint sitting is called upon.
Further course of action is as follows:
- In the case of joint sitting, the disputed provisions are either fully accepted or fully rejected.
- For this, a simple majority is needed which means that if more than half of the members of the both the houses present at floor at the same period. If disputed provisions are accepted, the provisions are accepted fully or if the provisions are rejected it is rejected fully.
A bill that is passed by both the houses of the parliament forward to the speaker. The speaker signs it and then the bill is sent to the president of assent as the last stage of a bill. If the president gives assent to the said bill, it becomes a Law. Once it is a law, it gets entered the statue book and gets published in Gazette.
However, as we studied, the President may take the following more courses of actions:
- The president returns the bill to the house. If the president returns the bill, the whole procedure is opened again, and it will take the same steps as mentioned above.
- The president withholds assent, this would mark the end of the bill.
The above-mentioned procedure is for the ordinary bills. There are some important differences in procedure for money bills and financial bills.
- While money bills can originate only in Lok Sabha, all other ordinary bills including constitution amendment bills can originate in either house of the parliament.
- A bill does not get lapsed on prorogation of the house. All the bills pending in Lok Sabha get lapsed when Lok Sabha is dissolved.
- If a bill has been passed by Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha, it will lapse if Lok Sabha dissolves.
- Bill not passed by Lok Sabha but pending in Rajya Sabha does not lapse if Lok Sabha dissolves.
- A bill passed by Rajya Sabha and pending in Lok Sabha will lapse if Lok Sabha dissolves.
- A bill pending in other house for more than 6 months is deemed to be rejected but does not mean that a bill gets lapsed. Further, for Money bills, the Rajya Sabha has limited time to return with comments otherwise it would be deemed passed in both houses. Thus, Rajya Sabha can NOT reject the provisions of Money Bill or other finance bills.