Bills and passing of an Act:
The most significant function of the Parliament is to take legislative decisions such as making a law or amending it. All legislative proposals are brought before Parliament in the form of bills. A bill is the draft of a legislative proposal, which becomes a law after receiving the approval of both the houses of the Parliament and the assent of the President.
Types of bills:
The two types of bills are public bills and private bills, which follow the same procedure and pass through the same stages in both houses of the Parliament. The differences between the two bills are as follows:
1. A government bill is essentially introduced by a minister whereas a private bill is introduced by any member of the parliament other than a minister.
2. A government bill reflects the policies of the government while a private bill reflects the stand of opposition party on public matters.
3. As the government has majority in the parliament, public bills have greater chance to get passed. The Private members’ bills do not have this advantage.
4. The introduction of government bill in the House requires seven days notice whereas the introduction of private bill requires one month’s notice.
5. The government bill is drafted by the concerned department in consultation with the law department while the concerned member is responsible to draft private bill.
The bills introduced in the parliament can also be further classified as:
1. Ordinary Bills: These bills concerned with any matters other than the financial matters.
2. Money Bills: These bills are concerned with the financial matters such as taxation, public expenditure etc.
3. Finance Bills: These bills are concerned with those financial matters which are not included in money bill.
4. Constitution Amendment Bills: These are concerned with the amendment of provisions of the constitution.
Process of passing bills:
1. Ordinary bill- The five stages through, which and ordinary bill passes to become a law are as follows:
(a) First reading- It includes the introduction of the bill in either of the houses of the Parliament by a minister or by a private member. It is followed by the grant of leave and its publication in the Gazette of India.
(b) Second Reading: At this stage, the bill undergoes detailed scrutiny including discussion of every clause. This stage can be further divided into the stages of general discussion, committee stage and consideration stage.
(c) Third Reading: At this stage, no amendments are allowed. The bill needs to be passed by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House. When bill is authenticated by the presiding officer, it is sent to the other house for consideration and approval.
(d) Bill in the second House: In the second House also, the bill needs to be passed by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House. If the second House passes the bill without any amendments, the bill is sent to the president for his assent.
(e) Assent of the President: If the president gives his assent to the bill, the bill becomes an act and placed on the Statute Book. If the president withholds the assent to the bill, the bill ends.
2. Money Bill:
Under article 110(1) of the Constitution, a bill is deemed to be a money bill if it contains only provisions dealing with imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax, matters of Consolidated Fund, provides imposition of fines etc. The Speaker’s certificate on a money bill once given is final and cannot be challenged. A money bill can be introduced in Lok Sabha only on the recommendation of the President.
3. Finance Bills:
Financial bills are those bills which relates to revenue and expenditure. Financial bills are of three kinds-Money bills-Article 110, financial bills (I) - Article 117 (1), Financial bills (II)-Article 117 (3). All money bills are financial bills, but all financial bills are not money bills. Financial bill (I) can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha and can be introduced only on the recommendation of the president. Financial bill (II) can be introduced in either House of parliament and recommendation of the President is not necessary for its introduction. Both the houses have power to reject or amend the bill.
4. Constitution Amendment Bills:
Bills seeking to amend all other provisions of the Constitution including those enumerated in the proviso to article 368(2) are called as Constitution Amendment Bills. These Bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament, but not in the state legislature. These bills do not require prior permission of the president and can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member.
There are three types of constitutional amendment bills:
(1) Bills that need to be passed by parliament by simple majority
(2) Bills that need to be passed by Parliament by the special majority
(3) Bills that need to be passed by Parliament by the special majority and also to be ratified by not less than one-half of the state legislatures
Assent to Constitution Amendment Bills: Constitution Amendment Bills passed by Parliament by the special majority and, where necessary, ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures are presented to the President. The president must give his assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent nor return the bill for reconsideration of the parliament. The bill becomes an act after president’s assent.
Joint Sitting of two houses:
The joint sitting is a provision provided by the constitution to resolve the deadlock on a bill between the two houses. A deadlock might arise, if after a bill has been passed by one House and transmitted to the other House.