What is the procedure of Bill Passing in Indian Parliament?

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Lawmaking is the main function of the Parliament. It is true that law is made joint by the legislature and executive, but the role of legislature in lawmaking deserves s mention.

Lawmaking involves several steps. First, a bill is introduced in the Parliament. S the bill is passed by the Parliament. Third, the bill, after getting passed by the Parli is sent to the President for his assent. When the bill is adopted in the Parliament, it bee an Act. When an Act gets the assent of the Parliament, it becomes the law of the land.

A Bill is a technical name given to the draft of the proposal which is moved in Parliament. Non-Money Bills can be introduced either in the Lok Sabha or in the Sabha. But the Money Bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. A Money Bill, before it is introduced in the Lower House, has to receive the approval of the President.

Preparing a bill is not an easy job. It requires some amount of expertise and tech knowledge. Apart from the knowledge of the concerned matter, legal background is required for preparing a bill. It is difficult for an ordinary member of Parliament to mobilize required resources.

This explains why most of the bills are moved by the government. However, sometimes some MPs also take the trouble of preparing bills and introduced them in the Parliament.

When a ministry or department decides to move a bill in the Parliament, it depends mostly upon its own resources for this purpose. However, it consults the Law Mini before the bill is given the final shape. If a private Member of Parliament wants to introduce a bill, he takes the help of the Secretariat of the Parliament. He also consults the Ministry in this regard.

When a bill is introduced by any ministry or government department, it is known the Government Bill. On the contrary, a bill introduced by a private Member of Parliament is called a Private Member's Bill. Because of party discipline a Government Bill is v likely to be passed by the Lok Sabha, because the ruling party enjoys majority support1 the Lok Sabha.

The fate of a Private Member's Bill is uncertain, as the attitude of government towards such a bill is quite uncertain. Even if a Private Member's Bill introduced by an MP belonging to the ruling party, it is not obligatory for the government to support it.

A bill has to pass through three stages. In each stage, there is a reading of the bill, is why these three stages are known as the first reading, the second reading and the third reading. The Committee stage and the Report stage form a part of the second reading.

1. First Reading:

In the first stage, the bill is introduced in one of the Houses of the Parliament. While Money Bills are to be introduced only in the Lok Sabha, all other bill can be introduced either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha. The mover of the bill just reads the title of the bill. Normally there is no opposition at this stage. So usually the bill is allowed to be introduced by a voice vote.

If, in the stage of first reading, the bill is opposed, the mover and the oppose of the bill are required to make brief statements on the floor of the House. After that, the vote is taken.

Once the bill is cleared in the first stage, the presiding officer of the House (the Speaker or the Chairman) sends the bill for publication in the Gazette. Sometimes important bills are already published in the Gazette before they are introduced in a House.

2. Second Reading:

This is considered the most important stage of lawmaking in the Parliament. At this stage there are several options. First, it may go straight to the House for consideration. Secondly, it may be referred to a Select Committee of the House. Thirdly, it may also be sent to a Joint Committee of both Houses. Fourthly, it may go for circulation for eliciting public opinion.

In most of cases, the bill is referred to a Select Committee. But, if the bill is of great importance, it is circulated among the public for knowing the opinions and reactions of different segments of the society.

Select Committee Stage:

After initial discussion on the bill during the second reading, the bill is usually sent to a Select Committee for more critical considerations. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the presiding officer of the House (the Speaker or the Chairman). After a general discussion, the bill is discussed clause by clause. Experts and witnesses are invited to express their opinions.

The Report Stage: The Select Committee is expected to submit a report to the House within three months. In the Select Committee, the decision is taken by majority and the report of the committee may include the recommendations of the committee and the changes that it wants to be incorporated in the bill.

Then the bill and the report of the Select Committee are placed before the House for its consideration. At this stage, amendments can be moved, but no member will be allowed to move an amendment which seeks to defeat the main purpose of the bill. The bill is discussed and put to vote clause by clause. With the completion of this process the second reading of the bill is over.

3. Third Reading:

At the stage of third reading amendments are not allowed, but the members are allowed to discuss the general character of the bill. The bill, as a whole, is put to vote. If the bill is passed by a majority, it is signed by the presiding officer (the Speaker or the Chairman) and it is then sent to the other House in which the bill has to pass through three identical stages.

If the bill is cleared in all three stages by the other House, it is sent to the President for his assent. If the other House does not agree to the bill, already passed by one House, it is free to make suggestions or propose amendments.

But, if the amendments or changes suggested are not acceptable to the House which had passed the bill, the two Houses meet jointly to take a decision on the bill. In the joint sitting of both Houses, decision is taken on the basis of majority vote.

When the bill is sent to the President for his assent, he can do one of the following two things. He may give assent to the bill; he may also return the bill to the originating House for reconsideration. If the bill is again passed by both Houses of the Parliament with or without amendments, the President is bound to give his assent to the bill. Thus, lawmaking in the Parliament is a long and complicated process.


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