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India’s Laws: The Journey Of A Bill In The National Legislature

Parliament House, New Delhi

Laws

India’s Laws: The Journey Of A Bill In The National Legislature

The Bill is an Act of Parliament and published in the official gazette after receiving Presidential assent

Laws are made by the Parliament (in the case of union or central laws) or the State Legislatures (state laws). In the case of union laws, a proposal is introduced in a House of Parliament (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) in the form of a Bill. The Bill is sent to the President after it is passed by both the Houses of Parliament. It becomes an Act of Parliament, or law, once it receives the President’s assent. State Legislatures follow a similar process with the Governor giving his or her assent before a Bill becomes a law. The procedure that is followed is designed to prevent any legislation coming into force without adequate brainstorming and discussion.

Who Can Move A Bill?

A Bill can be moved by a minister of the union government or by a Member of Parliament (MP). It is known as a Government Bill when introduced by a minister. When an MP introduces a proposal, it is known as a Private Members Bill.

A Government Bill can be moved in either house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. The procedure is, however, different in the case of a Money Bill, which deals with taxes or money spent by the government. A Money Bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

(Also Read- Indian Criminal Justice System: 10 Interesting Facts)

Meticulous Process

When a proposal to make a new law or amend an existing one is introduced in a House of Parliament, the stage is known as the First Reading of the Bill and it is listed for further discussion at a later date. The Presiding Officer of the House may, however, refer it to a Standing Committee to examine it and submit a report.

The Second Reading of the Bill sees a general discussion on the proposal by members of the House. The Presiding Officer of the House (Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha) can also refer the Bill to a Select Committee of the House or a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament should the need arise.

Detailed Discussions

The Bill then sees a clause-by-clause discussion on its provisions. The report of the Select Committee or Standing Committee is also taken up at this stage in the case of Bills which have been referred to it. Amendments to a Bill can be moved and put to vote if necessary at this stage. These amendments become a part of the Bill if a majority of the members present vote in favour. The next stage is known as the Third Reading, where members debate to support or reject the Bill.

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Passing A Bill

A simple majority of members present and voting is enough to pass an ordinary Bill. A Bill to amend the Constitution, however, needs a majority of the total membership of the House and a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting to be passed. Once a Bill is passed, it is sent to the second House, where it follows a similar process. If the second House too passes the Bill, it is sent to the President for approval.

What If The Other House Does Not Agree?

If the other House rejects a Bill or makes amendments which are not accepted by the House which originally passed the Bill, the President can call a Joint Sitting of both the Houses to resolve the issue. A Joint Sitting can also be called if the other House does not pass a Bill within six months. A Bill is considered to have passed by both the Houses if a majority of the members of both the Houses present and voting at the Joint Sitting vote in its favour. There is no provision for a Joint Sitting in the case of a Bill to amend the Constitution.

How A Bill Becomes A Law

A Bill becomes a law once it receives the President’s assent. The President can return the Bill to Parliament with suggestions for changes but has to give his or her assent once it is sent a second time, even if none of the changes are incorporated. The Bill is notified as an Act of Parliament and published in the official gazette after receiving Presidential assent.

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