Law-making Procedure in the Parliament – Ordinary Bills and Money Bills

Any proposed law is introduced in the Parliament as a bill.

After being passed by the Parliament and getting the President’s assent it becomes a law.

There are two kinds of bills, which come up before the Parliament:

[1] Ordinary bill and [2] Money bill


Ordinary Bills

Every member of the Parliament has a right to introduce an ordinary bill and from this point of view, we have two types of bills – [1] government bills and [2] private member’s bills.

A Minister moves a government bill and any bill not moved by a Minister is a Private Member’s Bill, which means that the bill has been moved by a member of parliament but not a minister in the Government.

The Government bills consume most of the time of the Parliament.

The Bills pass through several stages:

[A] First Reading—

With the introduction of the bill, the First Reading of the bill starts.

The Minister wanting to introduce a bill, informs the presiding officer.

He/she puts the question of introduction to the House.

When approved, normally by voice vote, the Minister is called upon to introduce the bill.


[B] Second Reading—

This stage is the most vital stage.

After general discussion the House has four options:

(1) it may straightaway take the bill into detailed (clause by- clause) consideration or

(2) refer it to a select committee of the House or,

(3) refers it to the Joint Committee of both the Houses or

(4) circulate it among the people to elicit public opinion.

If the bill is referred to a select committee of the House or the joint select committee of both the Houses, the concerned committee examines the bill very minutely.

Each and every clause is examined.

The committee may also take the opinion of professionals and legal experts.

After due deliberations, the committee submits its report to the House.


(C) Third Reading—

After the completion of the second reading, the Minister may move that the bill be passed.

At this stage normally no discussion takes place.

The members may oppose or support the adoption of the bill, by a simple majority of members present and voting.


Bill in the other House—

After the bill has been passed by one House, it goes to the other House.

Here also the same procedure of three readings is followed.

The following consequences may follow:

(A) It may pass it; then the bill is sent to the President for his assent.

(B) It may pass the bill with amendments.

The bill will be sent back to the first House.

In such a case, the first House will consider the amendments and if it accepts the amendments then the bill will be sent to President for his assent.

In case the first House refuses to accept the amendments, then it means there is a deadlock.

(C) It may reject it. It means there is a deadlock.

In order to remove the deadlock between the two Houses, the President may call for a joint sitting of the two Houses.

Such joint sittings are very rare in India and till now only three times such meetings have taken place.

They were convened on the occasion of passage of Dowry Prohibition Bill 1959, Banking Service Commission (Repeal) Bill, 1978, and Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002.


(D) President’s assent to the Bill—

After being passed by both the Houses or the Joint Sitting of both Houses, the bill is referred to the President for his assent.

The President also has some options in this regard:

(1) He may give his assent and with his assent, the bill becomes a law.

(2) He may withhold his assent, but may suggest some changes.

In such a case the bill is sent back to the House from where it had originated.

But if both the Houses pass the bill again with or without accepting the recommendations of the President, the President has no option but to give his assent.

(3) In 1986, the President Giani Zail Singh invented a new option. He neither gave his assent nor he returned it to the Parliament for reconsideration of the Postal Bill.

He sought some clarifications, which were never provided. The bill thus, lapsed.


Money Bills—

The bill that deals with the money matters i.e. imposition, abolition, alteration of any tax or the regulation of the borrowing of money or giving of any guarantee by the Government of India or amendment of law with respect to any financial obligation undertaken by the Government of India or related to Consolidated Fund or Contingency Fund of India, is called a Money Bill.

The money bills are such bills which deal with money matters like imposition of taxes, governmental expenditure and borrowings etc.

In case there is a dispute as to weather a bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker’s decision is final.

His/her decision in this regard cannot be questioned in any court of law or in the either House of Parliament or even the president.

The money bill has to undergo three readings like an ordinary bill but few considerations are also added here.

They are—

[1] Money bill can be introduced only in Lok Sabha and not in Rajya Sabha and that too with the prior approval of and on behalf of the President.

[2] After being passed by the Lok Sabha, the bill goes to the Rajya Sabha.  Rajya Sabha has 14 days at its disposal for consideration and report.

[3] The Rajya Sabha cannot reject the money bill.  It may either accept it or make recommendations.

[4] In case Rajya Sabha chooses to make recommendations, the bill will return to Lok Sabha.  The Lok Sabha may accept these recommendations or reject them.  In any case the bill will not go back to Rajya Sabha. Instead it will be sent directly to the President for his assent.

(5) If the Rajya Sabha does not return the bill within 14 days, it will be deemed to have been passed by both the Houses of the Parliament and sent to the President for his assent.

Thus, the Lok Sabha has more powers than Rajya Sabha with regard to a money bill. On the other hand, both the Houses have equal powers with regard to an ordinary bill.

Finally, when a money bill is presented to the president, he may either give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the bill but cannot return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses.