Subjects >>Indian Polity >>Working of the Indian Parliament

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INTRODUCTION
01 Aug 2020

Our Constitution has adopted the Parliamentary System of Government for a harmonious blending of the legislative and executive organs of the State. The Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the Government of India.

The one of the major functions of the Parliament is to make laws after thorough discussions and debates on the bill presented in the either house of the Parliament.

The whole procedure followed for the same is called the working of the Parliament.

Sessions of Parliament

The constitution only states that there should not be a gap of more than 6 months within two consecutive sittings of the Parliament.

However, as per Parliamentary practice there are three sessions of Parliament in a year.

  • Budget Session (February-May): This is the longest and most important session
  • Monsoon Session (July-August)
  • Winter Session (November-December). It is the shortest session.

End of session

  • Prorogation – It is the end of a particular session of the Parliament. It is done by the President.
  • Adjournment – This is a short interval session within a session of the parliament i.e. it only ends a sitting and not a session. It is done by the presiding officer of the house. Its duration may be from a few minutes to few days together.
  • Adjournment (Sine Die-Indefinite Period) – It means adjournment for indefinite period i.e., without fixing any time or date, done by presiding officer.
  • Dissolution – It is the end of the house. Only Lok Sabha can be dissolved. It is done by the President, After, dissolution there is fresh elections to the Lok Sabha.

Privileges and Prerogatives of the Parliament

The members of the parliament enjoy certain prerogatives and privileges not enjoyed by other citizens. So that the members of Parliament can discharge their function efficiently and fearlessly.

These privileges and prerogatives are enjoyed in two forms: Individually and Collectively.

  • Individually – There are 3 types of freedom an MP enjoy individually
    • Freedom of Speech – This is much wider than available to other citizens. Whatever is said by MP with in House and with the permission of House, outside the house he can’t be challenged in any court of law. However, this freedom is not absolute and has two limitations.
      • It must be in conformity with the rules of Parliament.
      • An MP can’t speak against the conduct of the Judge of Supreme Court and High Court unless there is removal procedure of that Judge in Parliament is considered.
  •  Freedom from Arrest
    • A member of Parliament can’t be arrested during the session of Parliament and 40 days before the summoning of the House and 40 days after the prorogation of the House. However, this immunity is available only in civil cases and not in criminal cases, preventive detention and contempt of court case.
  • Freedom from Jury services
    • A member of Parliament can’t be compelled to give witness in any court, in any case on which he is a witness, when parliament is in session. This is because Parliamentary proceedings are considered above all proceedings.
  • Collectively
    • Freedom to publish or not to publish any parliamentary proceedings including the right to punish individual for publishing such report.
    • Right to exclude outsiders from the house.
    • Right to regulate the internal affairs of the house.
    • Right to decide about parliamentary business.
    • Right to punish for contempt of house.
    • Right to punish members and outsiders for breach of its privileges.

Parliamentary control over executives

Following are the channels of parliamentary control over executives.

  1. The executive i.e., the Council of Ministers holds office only as long as it enjoys the confidence of Lok Sabha. If a no-confidence motion is passed the Council of Minister is bound to resign.
  2. In case of the head of the executive, the President, the Parliament is given the power of impeachment of President if he violates the Constitution.
  3. If a bill moved by a Council of Minister is defeated in the Parliament, it is considered to be of majority in the house and the Council of Minister is bound to resign.
  4. If a cut motion moved on budgetary proposal successfully, the Council of Minister should resign.
  5. The control of parliament is also exercised through motions such as
    • Adjournment motion
    • Call-attention motion
    • Censure motion and also by asking questions addressing to the ministers.

Types of Bills and its passage

The most important function of Parliament is to legislate i.e., to make laws.

The legislative procedure is initiated in the form of a bill. In fact, a bill is a proposed legislation and becomes a law when it is passed by the parliament and assented by the President.

The Bills are classified as:

  • Ordinary Bill
  • Money Bill
  • Financial Bill
  • Constitutional Amendment Bill

The Bills are broadly of two types:

  • Government Bills/Official Bills : The Money Bills, Financial Bills and Ordinary Bills under Article 3 are essentially Government Bills.
  • Private Member Bills: Any bill other than Money bill , Finance bill and ordinary Bill under Article 3 Government or Private member Bills.
  • A government Bill is introduced in the house by a minister, whereas a private member bill is introduced by any member of Parliament, other than a Minister.

Ordinary Bills

All the Bills other than Money, Financial, Constitutional Amendment Bills are ordinary bills.

An ordinary bill can be introduced in either house of the Parliament. President’s prior recommendation is not necessary to introduce it (except Article 3).

To get ordinary bill passed only simple majority is required in both the houses. In each house bill has to go through 3 stages called as readings.

The stages of reading are as follows:

  • 1st Reading (Introduction Stage) – It is the introduction stage in which the bill is introduced by reading it, and a copy (published in govt. Gazette) is distributed and no discussion takes place.
  • 2nd Reading (Consideration Stage) – This is the consideration stage in which bill is discussed clause by clause, amendment to the bill are proposed. All additions and detentions are made.
  • 3rd Reading (Final Stage) – During this stage a brief general discussion on final draft of bill takes place and the bill is finally placed for voting.

Once the reading is completed, the procedure for the passage is followed as:

  • When the bill is passed in one house it is transferred to other house, where similar procedure is followed.
  • If the bill is passed by both the houses, it is sent to the President for his assent.
  • President may give his assent or withhold his assent or may return that bill for reconsideration of the Parliament once.
  • After such reconsideration by both the houses bill is again sent to the President, he must give his assent to the bill.
  • If the bill is passed by one house and rejected by another house or other house takes no action for six months or other house make some amendment to the bill and send the bill back to the originating house which doesn’t agree with those amendments, then there is deadlock over the bill.
  • The President under Article 108, can call for a Joint Sitting of the Parliament to resolve such deadlock. In a joint sitting, only a simple majority is required to pass the bill.

[After the passage of bill, it is sent to the President and his assent is mandatory].

Money Bill

Money Bill is defined in Article 110 of the Constitution (from a to g)

Any bill that exclusively contains matters given in Article 110 such as:

  • Imposition, Abolition, Alteration or regulation of any tax.
  • Regulation of borrowing of money and giving guarantee by Government of India.
  • Custody of consolidated or contingency fund of India, payment made in to it and withdrawal of money from it.
  • Declaring any expenditure as charged on consolidated fund of India etc. Is a Money Bill.

Other important points

Whether a bill is money bill or not is certified by speaker, his decision is final and binding.

Money Bill can only originate in the Lok Sabha after prior recommendation of the President.

Role of Rajya Sabha

After being passed by Lok Sabha, the money bill is transmitted to Rajya Sabha which has four options:

  1. Pass the bill in original form
  2. Reject the bill
  3. Take no action for 14 days
  4. Send the bill back to Lok Sabha with suggestive amendments.

In case ‘1’ bill is sent to the President for his assent.

In case of ‘2’ and ‘3’ the bill is automatically stands to have been passed by the Rajya Sabha.

In case of ‘4’ Lok Sabha has the sole authority to accept or reject one or all the recommendations, in either case bill shall be deemed as passed with/without any recommendations.

There is no provision for joint sitting of Parliament to pass a money bill.

President has no right to withhold his assent in money bill even President can’t send it back to the Parliament for reconsideration.

Remember : Budget is a kind of Money Bill.

Financial Bill

Under Article 117, any bill dealing with revenue or expenditure but not certified as money bill by the speaker is called as Financial Bill.

Financial Bills are of two classes:

  1. A bill containing any of the matter specified in Article 110 but not exclusively dealing with those matters is called as Financial Bill of 1st Class.
  2. Example – A Bill containing taxations clause but not exclusively dealing with taxation.
  3. An ordinary bill containing provision including expenditure from consolidated fund of India is called as Financial Bill of 2nd Class.

A Financial Bill is as good as ordinary bill except two things:

  1. Financial Bill can’t be introduced without Presidents approval
  2. It can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha.

Regarding its passage it is as good as ordinary bill. In fact, there can be joint sitting in case of dead lock.

Constitutional Amendment Bill

  • Article 368 empowers the Parliament to amend the Constitution.
  • A bill for this can be introduced in either house of the Parliament and there is no need for President prior recommendation.
  • A Constitutional Amendment Bill can be Government Bill/Private Member Bill.
  • Parliament is empowered to amend the Constitution. However, these amendments are subjected to basic structure of the Constitution as said by Supreme Court in Keshvananda Bharati Case v/s State of Kerala Case, 1973.
  • The Constitutional Amendment Bill must be passed by each house separately with special majority mentioned in Article 368.
  • The Joint sitting of Parliament is not possible to pass such a bill. If the bill is passed by both the houses and goes for President assent, it is obligatory for president to give his assent.

Special Majority in Parliament

  • Special Majority means: A majority of total members of that house and 2/3rd of members present and voting.
  • Some of the provisions of the constitution such as power of the President, his election etc. can only be amended by a special majority in the Parliament as well as the support of not less than half of the total state legislatures.

Joint Sitting of the Parliament

According to Article 108, there are two occasions on which the joint sitting of the Parliament is concerned:

  • For a special address by the President.
    • At the commencement of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year (normally the Budget Session), the President convinces Joint Sitting of the Parliament and inform the Parliament the causes of the summons.
  • For resolving any dead lock over passage of a bill.
    • There are three circumstances which lead to a deadlock between two houses of Parliament.
    • Other than Money Bill or Constitutional Amendment Bill, if a bill is passed by one house and transmitted to another house and –
      • The bill is rejected by other house,
      • For 6 months, bill is not considered or passed by another house,
      • Other house makes some Amendment to the bill and send it back to the originating house, which is not accepted by originating house.

In above mentioned three situations the President calls for joint sitting of the Parliament. This joint sitting is presided over by the Speaker and his absence, the Deputy Speaker, if he is also absent then the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, if he is also absent, then any member of Parliament can preside by consensus of both the houses.

Only simple majority is required to pass the bill in joint session because of numerical strength of Lok Sabha it has upper hand in the Joint Sitting. President cannot withhold his assent to the bill produces before him after it is passed by Joint Sitting.