Bill Vs Act
Legislative proposals are brought before either house of the Parliament of India in the form of a bill. A bill is the draft of a legislative proposal, which, when passed by both houses of Parliament and assented to by the President, becomes an Act of Parliament. As soon as the bill has been framed, it has to be published in the news papers and the general public is asked to comment in a democratic manner. The bill may then be amended to incorporate the public opinion in a constructive manner and then may be introduced in the Parliament by ministers or private members.
A Bill is the draft of a legislative proposal. It has to pass through various stages before it becomes an Act of Parliament. There are three stages through which a bill has to pass in one House of Parliament. The procedure is similar for the Legislative Assemblies of States. The legislative process begins with the introduction of a Bill in either House of Parliament, i.e. the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. A Bill can 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. It is necessary for a member-in-charge of the Bill to ask for the leave of the House to introduce the Bill. If leave is granted by the House, the Bill is introduced. This stage is known as the First Reading of the Bill. If the motion for leave to introduce a Bill is opposed, the Speaker may, in his discretion, allow a brief explanatory statement to be made by the member who opposes the motion and the member-in-charge who moved the motion. Where a motion for leave to introduce a Bill is opposed on the ground that the Bill initiates legislation outside the legislative competence of the House, the Speaker may permit a full discussion thereon. Thereafter, the question is put to the vote of the House. However, the motion for leave to introduce a Finance Bill or an Appropriation Bill is forthwith put to the vote of the House. After a Bill has been introduced, it is published in The Gazette of India. Even before introduction, a Bill might, with the permission of the Speaker, be published in the Gazette.
After a Bill has been introduced, the Presiding Officer of the concerned House (Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or anyone acting on their behalf) can refer the Bill to the concerned Standing Committee for examination and to prepare a report thereon. If a Bill is referred to a Standing Committee, the Committee shall consider the general principles and clauses of the Bill referred to them and make a report thereon. The Committee can also seek expert opinion or the public opinion of those interested in the measure. After the Bill has thus been considered, the Committee submits its report to the House. The report of the Committee, being of persuasive value, shall be treated as considered advice.
In passing an ordinary Bill, a simple majority of members present and voting is necessary. But in the case of a Bill to amend the Constitution, a majority of the total membership of the House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting is required in each House of Parliament. If the number of votes in favour and against the bill are tied, then the Presiding officer of the concerned House can cast his/her vote, referred to as a Casting Vote Right. After the Bill is passed by one House, it is sent to the other House for concurrence with a message to that effect, and there also it goes through the stages described above, except the introduction stage. If a Bill is passed by one House is amended by the other House, it is sent back to the originating House for approval. If the originating House does not agree with the amendments, it shall be that the two houses have disagreed. The other House may keep a money bill for 14 days and an ordinary Bill for three months without passing (or rejecting) it. If it fails to return the Bill within the fixed time, the Bill is deemed to be passed by both the houses and is sent for the approval of the President.
In case of a deadlock between the two houses or in a case where more than six months lapse in the other house, the President may summon, though is not bound to, a joint session of the two houses which is presided over by the president of the country and the deadlock is resolved by simple majority. Until now, only three bills: the Dowry Prohibition Act (1961), the Banking Service Commission Repeal Bill (1978) and the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (2002) have been passed at joint sessions.
When a bill has been passed, it is sent to the President for his approval. The President can assent or withhold his assent to a bill or he can return a bill, other than a money bill, which is recommended by president himself to the houses, with his recommendations. If the President gives his assent, the bill is published in The Gazette of India and becomes an Act from the date of his assent. If he withholds his assent, the bill is dropped, which is known as absolute veto. The president can exercise absolute veto on aid and advice of council of ministers. Following position can be arrived by reading article 111 of Indian constitution with article 74. The president may also effectively withhold his assent as per his own discretion, which is known as pocket veto.
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