This article has been written by Gauri Saxena, an LL.M. student at Dr. D.Y. Patil College of Law, Navi Mumbai. This article covers exhaustive research on how a bill becomes law in India, the various stages it undergoes, and its finer aspects.
It has been published by Rachit Garg.
Society and law have been co-existing since time immemorial. Depending on the time and circumstance, society makes laws for the protection and welfare of its citizens. Without laws, society would be little more than a jungle where people would struggle over their most basic wants and anarchy might rule, which is catastrophic for any sort of civilization. Law-making is the fundamental duty of Parliament. To be considered by Parliament, all proposed laws must be presented as bills. Until it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and the President of India, a bill, which is a draft statute, cannot be said to be a law. Amongst the most crucial tools of government for establishing social order and defending citizens is legislation. Among other purposes, it establishes the duties and rights of those to whom the law applies, including persons and authorities. However, unless there is enforcement or retribution, a law is of very little use.
The history behind legislation in India
Before the British era
By passing through common law and secular legal frameworks, India’s legal system has developed from religious teaching to the modern constitution and legal structure we have. A civil system may have existed in India throughout the Bronze age and the Harappan civilization, according to the country’s documented legislative history, which dates back to the Vedic era. In India, the law has a distinguished history as a subject of doctrinal guidance from religion and intellectual discussion. It was a rich field that was later strengthened by scholars from the Jains and Buddhists. It sprang out of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other holy scriptures and was influenced by many Hindu philosophical schools.
From area to area and from leader to leader, the secular law in India differed considerably. Numerous governing lineages in ancient India had vital components, such as civil and criminal court systems. The Mughals gave rise to the modern common law system, but both the Mauryas as well as the Mughals had great secular court systems.
After the British era
The ‘vakil’, or advocates, who were part of the Mughal judicial system also changed with the time, largely maintaining their previous function of representing their clients. As only members of English, Irish, and Scottish professional organizations were granted the right of audience, Indian practitioners were unable to enter the newly established Supreme Courts. Following regulations and laws, the Legal Practitioners Act of 1846 allowed for the profession to be practised by anybody, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
The first Legal Commission’s establishment marked the official start of law coding. By 1862, the Indian Penal Code had been written, passed into law, and entered into force under the direction of Macaulay. The same commission was also responsible for writing the Code of Criminal Procedure.
A document that would serve as the newborn country’s Constitution was being written in the newly independent India’s Parliament at that time. The task of creating a Constitution for the young nation will fall to B.R. Ambedkar’s sharp legal intellect. It is difficult to overestimate the significance of the Indian Bar to the Indian Independence Movement; the fact that lawyers made up the majority of the movement’s greatest leaders throughout all political ideologies is sufficient evidence. The founding fathers may have been motivated to commit the necessary effort to create a Constitution of unparalleled proportions in terms of both bounds and length by the resulting system of justice and its relationship to society.
A natural outcome of the system of law in India is organic law. This has been tailored for Indian circumstances through judicial rulings and legal institutions. Despite being independently undertaken, the shift in the Indian legislature to a societal point of view can be seen to reflect trends in other common law jurisdictions.
The Indian legislature has changed from being just a creation of the British colonizers to being a vital component of the greatest democracy in the world and a pivotal front in the fight to protect the constitutional rights of all people.
Types of bills in India
There are five types of bills.
- Ordinary Bill
- Financial Bill
- Money Bill
- Constitutional Amendment Bill
- Ordinance replacing Bill
This bill may address any subject, excluding financial matters. An ordinary bill is presented in either House of the Parliament. A minister or private member is the one who proposes this bill. In the event of an ordinary bill, there is no presidential proposal. The Rajya Sabha has the authority to amend or reject ordinary bills and to hold them for up to six months. Under Article 111 of the Indian Constitution, it is given to the President for his assent by both the Houses of Parliament. Also, for these bills, a joint sitting is allowed.
The Union Budget contains the Finance Bill, which specifies all the legislative adjustments necessary for the taxation reforms that the Finance Minister has suggested. Thus, a bill will be considered financial if it just includes government spending while addressing other issues. The Finance Bill evolves into a Finance Act once it has received acceptance from the Lok Sabha (House of the People).
When a bill exclusively consists of provisions pertaining to taxes, government borrowing, and spending from the Consolidated Fund of India or receipts to the Consolidated Fund of India, it is referred to as a money bill. Bills might also be considered money bills if they simply comprised elements ancillary to these subjects. The imposition, annulment, modification, or restriction of any tax is contained in a money bill, as per the Constitution of India. Local taxes, however, are not covered by the money bill and cannot be levied locally.
If a bill is a money bill or not is ultimately determined by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Furthermore, no national court will hear a case against this order.
Only the Lok Sabha receives this bill, and, exclusively, a minister can make a preface. On the President’s proposal, a money bill is presented. The Rajya Sabha has no authority to change or reject this measure. There is a 14-day limit on how long the Rajya Sabha may hold it. After being passed by the Lok Sabha, the money bill is subsequently delivered to the President of India for his consent. A joint sitting is not allowed when a money bill is involved.
Constitutional Amendment Bill
This term is used to describe bills that aim to change clauses in the Constitution of India, namely those included in the proviso to Article 368(2). Such bills may be presented in either House of the Parliament. Whenever a bill is introduced by a private member, the Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolution must first review the bill and suggest that it be brought before it can be added to the list of businesses for introduction. The simple majority rule is used to decide motions to introduce bills.
Ordinance replacing bill
To replace an ordinance issued by the President under Article 123 of the Constitution of India, both with or without revisions, this bill is presented to Parliament.
Difference between a government bill and a private bill
Even though both private members and ministers participate in the drafting of laws, the bills presented by private members are known as ‘private member’s bills’ and the bills presented by ministers are known as ‘government bills’.
Difference between a bill and an act
A bill is an initiative to write new legislation. The proposal takes the form of a document that outlines the proposed law’s structure and the policy that underpins it. A member of Parliament may propose a bill, as may the Parliament or the state governments.
The bill goes to the Upper House for consent after passing the Lower House after the debate. The Indian President is notified of the bill’s passage by the Upper House and is asked to sign it. An act or statute is created once the bill has been approved by Parliament. The legislation does not always pass into law.
On the other hand, the President or the Governor, depending on whether the bill is a central law or a state law, is notified after the legislature has approved it and asked to sign it. It becomes an act once it has received presidential assent.
The legislature, such as the State Legislative Assembly or Parliament, creates laws through acts. The only way to modify or repeal this act after it has been enacted is to pass a new act. Consequently, a law can be changed or a new law can be created by a piece of legislation.
When this law is put into effect, it becomes a national law that may or may not apply to the entire nation.
How does a bill become a law in India
An ordinary bill must go through five phases to become law.
|Phase 1: First Reading||The bill is introduced at the ‘first reading’ in one of the two houses of Parliament by a minister or a member of the House. He or she must ask for leave (permission) before introducing the bill. After that, the measure’s title and purpose are read aloud.This is known as moving the bill or making a motion to introduce the bill.|
The opposition can refute the moving of such a bill. Any member of the opposing party can object to the bill’s introduction. The speaker may allow them to explain why. The issue will then go to a vote, according to the Speaker. If the House approves the bill’s introduction, the next step is taken and the bill is introduced.The bill is then presented, followed by its publication in the Indian Gazette. It is also significant to remember that at this time, there is no legislative dialogue.
|Phase 2: Second Reading||The second reading is divided into two stages:First stageWhen the fundamental idea behind the bill is discussed, it consists of a discussion of the bill as a whole. It is now up to the House or a Joint or Select Committee of the Houses whether to acknowledge it right away or to propagate it in order to get feedback.If a Joint or Select Committee is given the task of reviewing the bill, they do so clause-by-clause, just like the House. Members of the Committee have the authority to move amendments to different clauses. Aside from associations, government agencies, and professionals willing to get involved in the assessment, the Committee may also hear testimony from them. The Committee then puts forward its statement to the House, which then reconsiders the bill in the light of the Committee’s report.The state governments and union territories’ governments are used to gather public opinion when a bill is publicised to do so. A motion to refer the bill to a Joint or Select Committee must be made after the viewpoints are taken and placed on the House’s table. Moving the motion for evaluation of the bill is typically not allowed at this point. Second stageClause-by-clause analysis of the proposed legislation or the Joint Committee’s report is done during this part of the second reading. During this session, every clause of the bill is covered in depth, and proposed changes to clauses may be moved. Before the House votes on suitable clauses, amendments to a clause that have been moved but not yet revoked are put to the vote of the House. If approved by a majority of the members present and voting, the amendments are incorporated into the final text of the bill. The second reading of the bill is considered complete once the clauses, schedules, and, if applicable, clause 1, the ‘enacting formula’, have been approved by the House. Joint Committee Members of the Joint Committee are drawn from both houses.Select CommitteeMembers of the House’s Select Committee are those to which the bill is introduced.|
|Phase 3: Third Reading||A motion to pass the bill can then be made by the member in charge. The discussion at this point is limited to arguments for and against the bill, without further information than that, which is extremely important.|
The only amendments that may be offered at this time are those that are formal, unwritten, or resultant.To pass an ordinary bill, it must be approved by a simple majority of the members present and voting. However, in order to pass a bill amending the Constitution, it must receive the support of two-thirds of the members present and voting in each House of Parliament, as well as the majority of the members of the House.
|Fourth Phase: Bill in other House||At this stage, all three readings take place, just like before.Four possibilities exist at this time:Without any charges, the bill is approved by the House.The bill could be sent back to the first (previous) House with modifications for a second look.It has the option of dismissing the bill or keeping it pending. When a deadlock results from inaction on a matter for six months, the President calls a joint meeting where the majority of the members vote to pass the bill.|
|Fifth Phase: Assent of the President||A bill that has been approved by both Houses is signed by the President. The Lok Sabha Secretariat obtains the President’s assent in the specific instance of a money bill or a bill passed at a joint sitting of the Houses. Only after receiving the President’s assent does a bill become an act. A bill may receive the assent of the President or not. Unless it is a money bill, the President may also send the bill back to the House for further consideration along with recommendations. However, if the Houses pass the bill with or without amendments, the President is not permitted to hold back his or her signature.|
|Phase 1: Introduction||On the advice of the President, money bills are only presented in the Lower House, whereas ordinary bills are introduced in either of the Houses. Once the Lower House has approved the bill, it is sent to the Upper House, which has less authority and cannot dismiss or change the legislation.|
|Phase 2: Rajya Sabha’s powers||Rajya Sabha’s authority over money bills is as follows:With or without the recommendations of the amendments, the Rajya Sabha must return the bill in fourteen days. It is assumed that the bill has passed if it is not returned to it within the allotted time frame.The modifications proposed by the Rajya Sabha may or may not be accepted by the Lok Sabha.|
|Phase 3: Assent||The President’s consent is needed after the bill has been approved by both houses. He has the following options:Vote ‘yes’, or Refuse to say ‘yes’,However, he cannot send the bill back for revision.|
|Phase 4: Bill becomes an act||The proposed legislation is released in the Indian Statute Book as an act following the President’s approval.|
Constitutional Amendment Bill
|Phase 1: Introduction||A minister or a private member of Parliament introduces the bill.|
|Phase 2: Approval||It must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting in each House, as well as a special majority of the members present (more than 50%) of the total House members. Joint sitting in the event of a deadlock is not permitted.|
|Phase 3: In the case of the modification of federal provisions||The legislature of half of the states must approve the bill by a simple majority, or a majority of members of the House who are present and voting, if it seems to modify the federal provisions of the Constitution.|
|Phase 4: Assent||As opposed to ordinary bills, the President must assent and is unable to reject or return the bill.|
|Phase 1: Introduction||Only on the President’s recommendation may a financial bill be presented in the Lok Sabha.|
|Phase 2: Approval||After the President has suggested that the bill be considered in each House, it must be approved by both Houses of Parliament. The Rajya Sabha can, moreover, suggest changes to the bill. After being introduced, the bill has 75 days in Parliament to be approved.|
Ordinance replacing bill
|Phase 1: Introduction of ordinance||Within six weeks of the first sitting of Parliament, the ordinance must be laid before it after it has been framed. The ordinance has the option of becoming or expiring at the discretion of the legislature.|
|Phase 2: Bill to replace the ordinance||A bill designed to address the same issue is then introduced by the government after the ordinance is placed before Parliament.The purpose of this bill is to emphasize the factors that made the ordinance necessary to issue.The bill then proceeds according to the standard legislative procedure.|
What is a Joint Committee?
Members of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha make up the majority of parliamentary committees. The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is an ad hoc body prepared with a particular goal and time frame in mind. A motion approved by both chambers of Parliament and passed in one is required to create joint committees. Its purpose is to look into specific bills that have been brought before Parliament or to look into instances of financial irregularities in all forms of government activity.
A motion must pass in one House and receive support from the other to establish a JPC. Parliament makes the selection of the committee’s members. Variable membership counts are possible. In comparison to the Rajya Sabha, there are twice as many Lok Sabha members.
Who can introduce a bill in the Parliament
A bill may be introduced by a member other than a Minister, as well as by a Minister. It is referred to as a ‘government bill’ in the first instance and a ‘private member’s bill’ in the second. Unfortunately, for apparent reasons of not having a majority, private member’s bills rarely pass in Parliament.
Powers of both houses in introducing money bills
The Lok Sabha (Lower House) is the only place where money bills can be introduced. A money bill that has been approved by Lok Sabha and has been sent to Rajya Sabha (Upper House) must be returned by it (Rajya Sabha) with or without recommendations within 14 days. The recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha are subject to acceptance or rejection by the Lok Sabha. However, the bill is deemed to have been approved by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha if the Rajya fails to return it within 14 days.
The average time taken for a bill to become an act
As per a report, the average time taken for bills to be enacted into law in Parliament between 2006 and 2015 came out to be 261 days.
The President’s role in lawmaking
In terms of passing a bill, the President has specific duties. He must ratify a bill for it to become an Act after it has been approved by both Houses of Parliament. When a bill is presented to the President after receiving approval from both Houses, he has the option of giving his assent or abstaining. However, the President is not allowed to refuse his assent under Article 111 if Parliament passes a bill a second time, either with or without amendment, in response to the President’s refusal to assent to it. He is obligated to give his approval.
In some circumstances, getting the President’s approval before introducing legislation is necessary. The President must first give his or her approval before a bill establishing a new state or changing the borders of an existing state or states is presented to Parliament. Another instance where getting the President’s permission is required by the Constitution is a money bill.
Law-making procedure in states
Similar to the Union Parliament, the State Legislature’s main responsibility is to make laws.
State List and Concurrent List laws may only be passed by the State Legislature. If the State Legislature is bicameral, ordinary bills may be introduced in either house, but money bills must be introduced in the Vidhan Sabha first. The Governor is notified of the bill’s passage by both Houses and is asked to sign it. The bill may be returned to the Governor for revision. The Governor must give his approval when the Legislature passes this bill once more.
After receiving the assent of both Houses, as stated in Article 200, the bill is then sent to the Governor. The Governor will then have the option of approving or disapproving. Additionally, he or she has the option of saving their assent for the President’s review.
Here, the Governor must swiftly send a message of recommendation along with the bill back to the State Legislature. The legislature has the option of accepting or rejecting these recommendations in this case, and the bill is once more forwarded to the Governor for his approval. There are only two choices left for him to make at this point: either he will assent to the bill, or he will reserve it for the President’s future consideration.
In the absence of a legislative session, the Governor may promulgate an Ordinance on matters of state concern. The ordinances are legally binding. When the State Legislature reconvenes, the issued ordinances are brought before them. If the Legislature doesn’t reject it before the six weeks are up, it stops working after that point. The ordinance is replaced by a regular bill that is passed by the legislature and becomes law. Following the reassembly of the legislature, this is typically completed within six weeks.
A bill has to go through various stages before it becomes a law, which is the backbone of any society to sustain and thrive. The process for passing legislation through state legislation resembles that of union legislation almost exactly. As a result, only after the draft bills have been approved by the Parliament does the Parliament legislate using the government acts that are corporated into the Indian Constitution. The current duration of legislation seems to be a little longer than required. It is high time that this procedure was sped up so that we get new laws according to the needs of the nation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A private member’s bill becoming law: has this ever happened?
According to PRS Legislative, since 1970, Parliament has not approved a single private member’s bill.
How many private bills have been passed in India?
14 private bills have been approved by Parliament to date, including six in 1956.
Must all bills necessarily be introduced in Lok Sabha first?
No, only the finance bill and money bill have to be introduced in the Lok Sabha first. The rest of the bills can be introduced in either of the houses.
Who determines whether a bill is a money bill or not?
Whether a bill is a money bill or not is ultimately decided by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Furthermore, no court in the nation will hear a case against this order.
Who is a private member?
An MP who is not a minister is referred to as a ‘private member’.
- https://prsindia.org/files/parliament/vital_stats/1265629223–Vital%20Stats%20-%20Private%20Member%20Bills% 2021Jan2010%20v02.pdf
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