Recently the Parliament in the Monsoon Session has passed 25 laws including The Farmers (Employment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Protection and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. But many of you might me wondering how a Bill becomes a law in India. This article will provide a succinct explanation on how it is done. How the proposals are made in the form of bills and get the assent of The President of India to ultimately become an Act.
There are 3 distinct organs of the Government with separate powers; Legislative (for making laws), Executive (for implementing the law) and Judiciary (for interpreting the law).
In India, Bills introduced are of 3 types:
- Money Bills: This involves financial matters and is provided under Article 110 of the Constitution.
- Constitutional Amendment Bill: Involves the proposals for amendments of the Constitution.
- Ordinarily Bills: Any bill which isn’t Money Bills or Constitutional Amendment Bill. Thus, for the process of making Acts, we will study the Legislative Procedure of rule making.
This article will talk about passing of Constitutional Amendment Bills and Ordinary Bills as they follow the same procedure, however just remember that:
- Ordinary Bills are passed by simple majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha while Constitutional Bills are passed by Special majority.
- The President can withhold his assent regarding the Ordinary bills but cannot do so to the Constitutional Amendment Bills.
- If there is a deadlock regarding the Ordinary Bill, it can be resolved by joint meeting by the President but no such case with respect to Constitutional Amendment Bills.
How Bill becomes an Act
- FIRST READING
This is the introduction stage where in either house of the Parliament the Bill is introduced ,either by a minister or a private member. There is a restriction on private member to introduce up to four Bills in a session. This, however, is not in case with a minister, who can introduce as many bills as he wants.
A seven days’ prior notice is required for the bill to be introduced and after the permission is granted, on that set day, the Bill is introduced after the Question Hour.
- SECOND READING
This stage is further divided into two stages:
- FIRST STAGE: At this stage, there is a general discussion on the Bill, not anything detailed is discussed, just the basic principle of the Bill. The mover may move one of the following motions:
- Bill is referred to either a Select Committee or a Joint Committee: These are Adhoc committees who go through the Bill clause by clause and suggest amendments wherever necessary and submit the Report to the House. The members of Select Committee are appointed by the Chair of the House from amongst the members of the house while the members for Joint Committee are from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the ration of 2:1.
- Bill is circulated for eliciting public opinion: It asks the opinion of various associations, local bodies and individuals about the bill. Within three months, the opinions are sent by the respective state governments and are referred to either the Select or the Joint Committee.
- Bill is straightway taken into consideration by the House
- SECOND STAGE: This is the stage where the bill is taken for consideration either directly or after the Report of Selection or Joint committee is submitted. At this stage the bill is discussed in detailed.
This is the last stage of the Bill in that house where it is introduced. Discussions are not detailed and no amendments can be made, it either calls in for the support or rejection of the Bill. After a succinct discussion, it is put to vote.
If the Bill is passed by one house, it goes to the next and it goes through same process. If the Bill is passed by the second house as well, then it goes to the President for his assent. However, if there is no agreement with the contents of the Bill between the two parties a Deadlock takes places and if the deadlock continues for more than six months, President may summon a joint meeting to resolve the issue of deadlock.
After everything is clear and Bill is passed by both houses of the Parliament or in Joint sitting, the Bill is submitted to the President of India, who has three options:
- Give his assent, thus making the Bill an Act.
- Withhold his assent.
- Return the Bill to the Parliament.
If the Bill is returned to the Parliament by the President and the Bill is again passed by both houses of the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President shall not withhold his assent to the Bill.
There is no time limit for the President to take decision on the Bill; he may keep the bill pending on his table for as long as he wants, without taking any decision. Thus, the Bill remains undecided till the dissolution of Lok Sabha and the Bill comes to an end. It is to be noted that President cannot withhold his assent regarding Constitution Amendment Bill.