NCERT Summary: Legislature - 2 Notes | EduRev

Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

UPSC : NCERT Summary: Legislature - 2 Notes | EduRev

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HOW DOES THE PARLIAMENT MAKE LAWS?
  • The basic function of any legislature is to make laws for its people. A definite procedure is followed in the process of making law. Some of the procedure of law making are mentioned in the Constitution, while some have evolved from conventions. Follow a bill through the legislative process and you will clearly see that the law making process is technical and even tedious.
  • A bill is a draft of the proposed law. There can be different types of bills. When a non minister proposes a bill, it is called private member’s Bill. A bill proposed by a minister is described as Government Bill. Let us now see the different stages in the life of a bill.
  • Even before a bill is introduced in the Parliament there may be a lot of debate on the need for introducing such a bill. A political party may pressurize the government to initiate a bill in order to fulfill its election promises or to improve its chances of winning forth coming elections. Interest groups, media and citizens’ forums may also persuade the government for a particular legislation. Law making is thus not merely a legal procedure but also a political course of action. The preparation of a bill itself involves many considerations such as resources required to implement the law, the support or opposition that the bill is likely to produce, the impact that the law may have on the electoral prospect of the ruling party etc. In the era of coalition politics especially, a bill proposed by the government has to be acceptable to all the partners of the coalition. Such practical considerations can hardly be ignored. The Cabinet considers all these before arriving at a decision to enact a law.
  • Once the Cabinet approves the policy behind the legislation, the task of drafting the legislation begins. The draft of any bill is prepared by the concerned ministry. For instance a bill raising the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 21 will be prepared by the law ministry. The ministry of women and child welfare may also be involved in it. Within the Parliament, a bill may be introduced in the Lok-Sabha or Rajya Sabha by a member of the House (but often a minister responsible for the subject introduces the bill). A money bill can be introduced only in Lok-Sabha. Once passed there, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha.
  • A large part of the discussion on the bills takes place in the committees. The recommendation of the committee is then sent to the House. That is why committees are referred to as miniature legislatures. This is the second stage in the law making process. In the third and final stage, the bill is voted upon. If a non-money bill is passed by one House, it is sent to the other House where it goes through exactly the same procedure.
  • As you know, a bill has to be passed by both Houses for enactment. If there is disagreement between the two Houses on the proposed bill, attempt is made to resolve it through Joint Session of Parliament. In the few instances when joint sessions of the parliament were called to resolve a deadlock, the decision has always gone in favour of the Lok-Sabha.
  • Article 109 Special procedure in respect of Money Bills.-(1) A Money Bill shall not be introducted in the Council of States
  • If it is money bill, the Rajya Sabha can either approve the bill or suggest changes but cannot reject it. If it takes no action within 14 days the bill is deemed to have been passed. Amendments to the bill, suggested by Rajya Sabha, may or may not be accepted by the Lok-Sabha. When a bill is passed by both Houses, it is sent to the President for his assent. The assent of the President results in the enactment of a bill into a law.
HOW DOES THE PARLIAMENT CONTROL THE EXECUTIVE?

In a parliamentary democracy, the executive is drawn from the party or a coalition of parties that has a majority in Lok-Sabha. It is not difficult for the executive to exercise unlimited and arbitrary powers with the support of the majority party. In such a situation, parliamentary democracy may slip into Cabinet dictatorship, where the Cabinet leads and the House merely follows. Only if the Parliament is active and vigilant, can it keep regular and effective check on the executive. There are many ways in which the Parliament can control the executive. But basic to them all is the power and freedom of the legislators as people’s representatives to work effectively and fearlessly. For instance, no action can be taken against a member for whatever the member may have said in the legislature. This is known as parliamentary privilege. The presiding officer of the legislature has the final powers in deciding matters of breach of privilege. The main purpose of such privilege is to enable the members of the legislature to represent the people and exercise effective control over the executive.

(i) Instruments of Parliamentary Control
The legislature in parliamentary system ensures executive accountability at various stages: policy making, implementation of law or policy and during and post implementation stage. The legislature does this through the use of a variety of devices:

  • Deliberation and discussion
  • Approval or Refusal of laws
  • Financial control
  • No confidence motion

Deliberation and discussion: During the law making process, member soft he legislature get an opportunity to deliberate on the policy direction of the executive and the ways in which policies are implemented. Apart from deliberating on bills, control may also be exercised during the general discussions in the House. The Question Hour, which is held every day during the sessions of Parliament, where Ministers have to respond to searching questions raised by the members; Zero Hour where members are free to raise any matter that they think is important (though the ministers are not bound to reply), half-an- hour discussion on matters of public importance, adjournment motion etc. are some instruments of exercising control.
Perhaps the question hour is the most effective method of keeping vigil on the executive and the administrative agencies of the government. Members of Parliament have shown great interest in question hour and maximum attendance is recorded during this time. Most of the question aims at eliciting information from the government on issues of public interest such as, price rise, availability of food grains, atrocities on weaker sections of the society, riots, black-marketing etc. This gives the members an opportunity to criticize the government, and represent the problems of their constituencies. The discussions during the question hour are so heated that it is not uncommon to see members raise their voice, walk to the well of the house or walk out in protest to make their point. This results in considerable loss of legislative time. At the same time, we must remember that many of these actions are political techniques to gain concessions from government and in the process force executive accountability.

Approval and ratification of laws: Parliamentary control is also exercised through its power of ratification. A bill can become a law only with the approval of the Parliament. A government that has the support of a disciplined majority may not find it difficult to get the approval of the Legislature. Such approvals however, cannot be taken for granted. They are the products of intense bargaining and negotiations amongst the members of ruling party or coalition of parties and even government and opposition. If the government has majority in Lok-Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha, as has happened during the Janata Party rule in 1977 and N.D.A. rule in 2000, the government will be forced to make substantial concessions to gain the approval of both the Houses. Many bills, such as the Lok Pal Bill have failed enactment, Prevention of Terrorism bill (2002) was rejected by the Rajya Sabha.

Financial control: As mentioned earlier, financial resources to implement the programmes of the government are granted through the budget. Preparation and presentation of budget for the approval of the legislature is constitutional obligation of the government. This obligation allows the legislature to exercise control over the purse strings of the government. The legislature may refuse to grant resources to the government. This seldom happens because the government ordinarily enjoys support of the majority in the parliamentary system. Nevertheless, before granting money the Lok-Sabha can discuss the reasons for which the government requires money. It can enquire into cases of misuse of funds on the basis of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Accounts committees. But the legislative control is not only aimed at financial propriety. The legislature is concerned about the policies of the government that are reflected in the budget. Through financial control, the legislature controls the policy of the government.

No Confidence Motion: The most powerful weapon that enables the Parliament to ensure executive accountability is the non-confidence motion. As long as the government has the support of its party or coalition of parties that have a majority in the Lok-Sabha, the power of the House to dismiss the government is fictional rather that real. However, after 1989, several governments have been forced to resign due to lack of confidence of the house. Each of these governments lost the confidence of the Lok-Sabha because they failed to retain the support of their coalition partners.
Thus, the Parliament can effectively control the executive and ensure a more responsive government. It is however important for this purpose, that there is adequate time at the disposal of the House, the members are interested in discussion and participate effectively and there is willingness to compromise amongst the government and the opposition. In the two decades, there has been a gradual decline in sessions of the Lok-Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and time spent on debates. Moreover, the Houses of the Parliament have been plagued by absence of quorum, boycott of sessions by members of opposition which deprive the house the power to control the executive through discussion.


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