In the previous article I wrote about the difference between an ORDINANCE and a BILL. Now in this article let us learn about the process of a Bill becoming an Act.
A Bill is a draft proposal of law. A Bill will become an Act after it passes through following stages.
Introduction of a BILL – The legislative process starts with the introduction of the Bill in either House of Parliament i.e., Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. (There is no rule that a Bill has to be introduced in Lok Sabha first)
When a Bill is introduced by a Minister of Union Cabinet, it is called as ‘Government Bill’. Any member of the Parliament is also allowed to introduce a Bill and such a bill is called as Private Members’ Bill.
First Reading – It is a stage where Minister makes a brief speech about the salient features of the Bill and introduces it in either of the House. Once it is introduced in the house, it is published in official gazette for the information of the public. (A Bill can also be published in gazette before placing it in the Parliament with the approval of speaker).
Discussion Stage – Instead of reading all the clauses / provisions of the Bill in the Parliament, a Bill can be referred to a Standing Committee. The Standing Committee consists of a section of members who will read all the provisions, consider the opinion of general public and make a report thereon. (Please note that all Bills needn’t go to standing committee).
Second Reading – There will be general discussion about the Bill as a whole based on broad principles. (In case of differences, the house can refer this matter to select committee or Joint committee)
Third Reading – Finally, after making amendments suggested by select committee, members or general public, the Minister can move that the Bill be passed. This stage is also called as voting stage. A simple majority (50% and above) is sufficient to pass the Bill. Once the Bill is passed in one house, then it is sent to other house for consideration. (Note: Any constitutional amendments to be done requires 2/3rd majority).
Other House – The other house will also go through similar stages as that of first house where the bill was first introduced. If a Bill is rejected by other house, the President of India can call for a Joint Session of the Parliament. During the Joint Session of the Parliament, if the Bills get simple majority of voting, then it is considered as passed by the Parliament and then sent to the President of India for his approval.
Even at this stage, a Bill won’t become an Act! The President of India can also return or withhold the Bill! Only if the President gives his assent, the Bill is published in the Official gazette of India. The day in which the Bill gets the assent of the President is the day it becomes an Act. However, the date of commencement of the Act is usually mentioned in the Act itself (either it can come into effect immediately or on a date mentioned in the Act)
Thought for the day
Most of the problems in life are because of two reasons – We act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting.