Describe the various steps in the life of a Bill before it becomes an Act.
Describe the law-making procedure in Indian Parliament.
Procedure of Passing an Ordinary Bill in the Indian Parliament:
An Ordinary or Non-Money Bill deals with general welfare of the community. An Ordinary Bill can originate in either House. An ordinary bill may be introduced either by a minister or by a private member. In the former case it is known as a Government Bill and in the latter case it is known as a Private Member’s Bill. A Government Bill and Private Member’s Bill undergo an identical procedure. Every bill has to pass through the following stages:
1. Introduction of the bill and its first reading: This stage covers introduction of the bill and its publication in the gazette of India. A request for introduction along with the statement of objects and reasons is sent to the presiding officer. If a private member desires to introduce a bill, he must give notice of his intention to the presiding officer. Every bill introduced in the House has to be published in the gazette. On the appointed date, the ministers or member-in-charge of the bill moves the motion for permission to introduce the bill and read out the title. At this stage generally no debate takes place and the presiding officer puts bill to vote. The House grants leave by voice vote. Sometimes there is opposition to the introduction of the bill. In this case the presiding officer may ask the member-in charge to make brief explanatory statement in-favour of the bill. After the permission of the Speaker/Chairman, the bill is published in the Government Gazette as the first stage in the passage of the bill.
2. Second Reading: After the consideration of the bill, the date for its second reading is fixed by the House. On the fixed date, mover of the bill may propose any of the following alternatives:
(i) The bill may be referred to a Select Committee of the House.
(ii ) The bill may be taken up for consideration.
(iii) The bill may be circulated for the purpose of eliciting public opinion.
In this stage, only the main principles involved in that bill are discussed; detailed discussion on the bill is not held.
3. Committee Stage: After the second reading, the bills is sent to the committee for its consideration. The House appoints a Select Committee to consider the bill. It consists of the mover of the bill and a few other members. If the Deputy Speaker is a member of the committee, he automatically become its Chairman. Since the membership of the committee is small — it varies from 20 to 30 members and its members are experts in the field, the bill is thoroughly and minutely examined in the committee.
Amendments to the bill can also be proposed at this stage. The committee tries to gather full information regarding that bill and can ask any member to appear before it.
4. Report Stage: It is necessary for the committee to submit its report within three months or any other time fixed by the house for the purpose. The Chairman or any other member authorised by the committee submits the report on the appointment date. The reports is published and its copies are distributed among the members of the House. After that, on the basis of the report submitted by the committee, general discussion on the bill takes place in the House. The supporters of the bill give arguments in its favour while those, who are opposed to the bill, point out the defects of the bill before the House and recommend its rejection. There is a clause-by-clause discussion on the bill. After the discussion, voting takes place. If the majority votes in favour of the bill it is passed in the report stage otherwise it is rejected.
5. Third Reading: It is the last stage in the passage of the bill by a House. At this stage, no substantial changes in the bill are made and only amendments to remove some ambiguities of language are allowed. Then the bill is put to vote. If it is passed by majority of members present and voting, it is so declared by the Speaker or the Chairman, as the case may be. He then certifies that the bill has been passed in the House and then it is sent to the other House.
6. The bill in the other House: After a bill is passed in one House, it is sent to the other House. Here also the bill again goes through all the stages which it has undergone in the first House. If the bill is passed in the other House, it is sent to the President for his signature. After President’s assent, the Bill becomes an Act or Law.