Through the eyes of Roscoe Pound, ‘Laws must be stable and yet cannot be standstill.’ Thus, the law has a social purpose, by that way; it should cope with dynamic societal needs, concepts, and values. ‘Law is social engineering which means a balance between the competing interests in society.’ Pound’s approach of law aspires beyond considering it as it is. This perception had accolade by the Indian constitution as it has symbolized the popular notion that dead hands of the past should not stifle the growth of the living present. That’s the reason why a provision like Article 368 is there in the Indian Constitution to prevent the Indian federation from suffering the faults of rigidity of legalism.
Apropos, one of the organs of the government qua the legislature has vested with certain powers and privileges. Parliament is the supreme legislative body of union government, composed of the elected representative of people, who are empowered to make, change or repeal the laws by expressing the collective will of the people. The Constitution of India provides for a bicameral Parliament consist of three organs, viz. the President, the Rajya Sabha, and the Lok Sabha. The primary function of Parliament is drafting laws, thence been labeled as the law-making branch of the government. A legislative proposal can be exalted to the status of law if it undergoes the legislative process in the form of a bill.
What are Bills?
A Bill is a statute in draft, could be presented before the Parliament to revise an existing law or to make a new one. The process of law-making embarks with the introduction of a bill in either house of the Parliament. A proposal of legislation i.e. a bill cannot become a law unless and until it has received the approval of both the Houses of Parliament and the President’s assent. A bill has to pass through all the stages of the legislative process commonly described as Readings to turn out to be a law.
Types of bills
Our constitution provides for four Bills that are passed in the Parliament. They are classified as follows,
Ordinary Bill– Elaborated in Articles 107 and 108, this Bill focuses on all matters related to law, excluding financial matters.
Money Bill- Pursuant to Article 110, this Bill dealt with financial matters such as taxation, public expenditure, audits, and accounting, and so on.
Financial Bill- Article 117 talks about financial Bills that do not contain any of the specifications of Article 110. Briefly, a Financial Bill involves all the matter that does not fall under the purview of a Money Bill.
Amendment Bill- Article 368 deals with the Constitution Amendment Bill.
Passage of legislative proposal in Parliament
A Bill is carried forward through all three readings of parliament ‘ by a catena of motions,’ which must be passed by both the Houses of Parliament; it is a prerequisite condition that has to be satisfied before submitting it for President’s assent. A legislative process is a long chain of standardized motions; in which each stage transcends one immediately before it.
First Reading: It is the introductory stage, where a Bill is introduced in either the house of the Parliament by a Minister or by a private person (who is not a Minister). The former is called a Government Bill since it has introduced by a member of the Government. And the latter is known as a Private Member’s Bill. At this stage, no discussion will take place.
Second Reading: In this stage, the Bill will be subject to scrutiny and discussed clause-by-clause. This stage encompasses three stages, namely, general discussion, committee stage, and consideration stage.
Third Reading: at this stage, a brief general discussion on the Bill will take place. No further amendments are allowed. When the Bill is passed in one house, it will be sent to the other house, where a similar procedure will repeat. If there is a disagreement between the houses, then the Bill cannot be deemed to be passed eventuate in the joint sitting of houses. Per contra, if passed by both the houses, then the Bill becomes the law of land after receiving approval from the President.
Money Bill And Ordinary Bill
Before demarcating money bills from ordinary bills, or vice versa, it is the sine qua non to comprehend the Bills in detail.
An ordinary Bill can be originated in either house of Parliament but must be approved by both the houses, a simple majority of members present and voting is necessary. Bill has to pass through the aforesaid Three Readings in both the houses of Parliament. Though it seems repetitious, bills that get through all these stages of the legislative process will only be deemed to have been passed. Such passed Bills alone are allowed to send out for the President’s assent. Upon the approval of the President, the Bill becomes a law. It is pertinent to note that no Bill becomes law without the assent of the President; even it has been approved by both houses of Parliament. As per Article 111, once the Bill has been sent to the President, he may either
- Give his assent to the Bill, or
- Withhold his assent (vetoing power of the President, can be exercised only on the advice of the cabinet), or
- Return the Bill, no matter whether the suggestions of amendments are mentioned or not, the houses shall reconsider the Bill. However, if the Bill has passed again, with or without incorporating those presidential suggestions and presented for the President’s assent, the President shall not withhold his assent.
But, what if both houses have a disagreement over the bill? (passed by one house and sent to the other, where the dissension arose). This standstill situation is not Res Integra as a resolving method of joint sitting of houses has prescribed under Article 108 of the Indian Constitution.
As per this provision, the President summons the houses to meet in a joint sitting. The instances in which the president summons joint seating is as follows, where,
- One house rejected the Bill despite being passed by the other.
- The house disagrees as to the recommendation or amendment as to be made in the Bill.
- The Bill has been received by the other house but kept outstanding for more than six months.
The President of India can convene the joint sitting meeting, and it will be presided over by the speaker of the lower house.
During the joint sitting, if the Bill has passed by the majority of the members of both houses presented and voted, it will be considered as passed by both the Houses.
As per Article 110(1) of the Indian Constitution, a Bill shall consider as a Money Bill only if it contains all or any of the subject matter related to the following,
- Imposition, abolition, remission, alteration, or regulation of any tax,
- Regulating the borrowing of money or giving of any guarantee by the Government of India,
- Custody of money in consolidated funds of India and contingency funds of India,
- The appropriation of money out of consolidation funds of India,
- Expenditure charged on the consolidated funds of India,
- Receipt to consolidated funds of India.
Any matter incidental to any of the aforementioned would also be regarded as Money Bills. A bill is not a Money Bill, if it provides for, Imposition of fines,
- Imposition of pecuniary penalties,
- Payment of license fee or other services performed.
- Imposition, abolition, remission, alteration, or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body of local purpose.
How money bills are passed?
Unlike Ordinary Bills, a Money Bill can only be introduced in the lower house of the Parliament, that too with a prior recommendation of the President. The certification of Lok Sahba Speaker is essential for a Money Bill so as to be sent to Rajya Sabha. If any question arises like whether or not the Bill is a Money Bill, the decision of the speaker of Lok Shaba would be the final. After a Money Bill has been passed by a simple majority in Lok Sabha, it shall be sent to Rajya Sabha for its recommendations.
Role of Rajya Sabha in Money Bill
- No power to reject the money Bill.
- No power to amend the money Bill.
- Power to propose recommendations on the Money Bill.
- Power to detain a Money Bill for 14 days.
The Rajya Sabha is obliged to return the Bill (with or without recommendations) to Lok Sabha within the time constraint of 14 days from the receipt of the Bill. If not, the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both houses at the expiration of said 14 days.
Lok Sabha can accept or reject all or any of the proposed recommendations of Rajya Sabha. No matter whether the amendment suggestions are accepted or rejected by Lok Sabha, the Money Bill can be passed.
As far as the assent of the President is concerned, since a money bill has been introduced in Lok Sabha only on the recommendation of the President, it is implausible that the President would veto it. Notably, the power of the president to veto a Bill can be exercised only on the advice of the ministry, the Government may not advice the President to veto the money bill for the passage of which it had been responsible.
Difference between Money bill and Ordinary Bill
The difference between Money Bill and Ordinary Bill are as follows:
|Ordinary Bill||Money Bill|
|It can be introduced in either the Houses of Parliament.||It can only be introduced in the Lower House of the Parliament.|
|Prior recommendation of the President is redundant i.e. this Bill can be introduced even without the recommendation of the President.||It can be introduced only on the recommendation of the President.|
|Can be introduced either by a minister or by a private person.||Only a Minister is authorized to introduce this Bill.|
|It can be amended or rejected by the Rajya Sabha.||Rajya Sabha is not empowered to reject or amend a money Bill. Per contra, Lok Sabha has the power to decide whether or not to accept the recommendations proposed by Rajya Sabha.|
|Rajya Sabha can detain a bill for six months.||A Money Bill can be detained by the Rajya Sabha only for a maximum period of 14 days.|
|If an Ordinary Bill originates in Lok Sabha, it doesn’t need to be ratified by the Lok Sabha Speaker before transmitting it to Rajya Sabha.||Money bill requires the certification of the Lok Sabha speaker when transmitted to Rajya Sabha.|
|If there arises any disagreement between the houses on the Bill, it will be resolved by the provision provided for joint sitting.||Since the upper house has no power to amend or reject a money bill, there is no chance of disagreement between the houses. Hence, it does not proceed for joint sitting; withal, there is no provision, as well.|
|It is sent to the President for his assent when it is passed by both the Houses of the Parliament.||The Bill can be sent for approval of the President even if it has passed in one house i.e. Lok Sabha.|
|An ordinary bill can be accepted, rejected, or returned for reconsideration.||The President can either accept or reject a money bill but cannot return it for reconsideration.|
The aforementioned are the key differences between a Money Bill and an Ordinary Bill. The legislative process of all the types of Bills is quite similar but, the only discrete element of the Money Bill is the conferred absolute authority on the Lower House of the Parliament. The procedure for passing a Money bill in Parliament has limited the power of the Rajya Sabha to prevent delays. However, it is noteworthy that no Bill except a Money Bill can become a law unless it is approved by both the Houses of Parliament.
 Indian Consti. Art. 108(4).
 Indian Consti. Art. 110(2)