Exclusive Powers of the Rajya Sabha.
(i) State Subject : Under Art. 249, the Rajya Sabha may pass a resolution by two-thirds majority, authorising Parliament to make laws on a State List subject in the national interest. Such a resolution can empower Parliament to make laws on a State List subject even in normal times. Such a resolution has a life of one year and is subject to repeated renewal.
(ii) All-India Services : Under Art. 312, the Rajya Sabha can create an all-India service by passing such a resolution by two-thirds majority. If it so happens, Parliament may make laws for this purpose.
(iii) Proclamation of Emergency : If the Lok Sabha is dissolved at the time of proclamation of emergency, the Rajya Sabha’s approval to it is needed. Otherwise too, the Rajya Sabha can apply a democratic check on the emergency powers exercised by the President.
(iv) Removal of Vice-President : Under Art 67, the Rajya Sabha alone can initiate a proposal for removing the Vice-President of India. Only if the resolution is passed by a majority, it is sent to the Lok Sabha for approval.
Powers of both the Houses Compared
The powers of the Houses of Parliament are not equal. In mony bills, the Lok Sabha has a complete say. But in non-money bills, the powers of the two Houses are equal. As every non-money bill should be passed by both Houses, the Lok Sabha cannot ignore the Rajya Sabha in this regard. Disagreements are resolved by joint sittings but here too Lok Sabha’s will reigns on account of its numerical strength vis-a-vis the Rajya Sabha. Again, there are powers which are jointly shared by both the Houses, such as in election and impeachment of the President of India, election and removal of the Vice President, constitutional amendments etc.
Legislative Procedure The legislative procedure in Parliament is different for ordinary bills and money bills.
Introduction : As ordinary bill (other than Money or Financial Bills) may be introduced in either House of Parliament (Art. 107) and requires passage in both Houses before it can be presented for President’s assent. A bill may be introduced either by a Minister or by a private person.
If introduced by a private person, he has to notify his intention and ask for leave of the House to introduce the Bill which is, however, rarely opposed.
Unless published earlier, the Bill is published in the official gazette as soon as may be after it has been introduced.
The introduction of the Bill is also called the first reading of the Bill.
Motions After Introduction : After a bill has been introduced, there are three courses open to the House : (i) may take up the Bill for consideration; (ii) refer it to a Select Committee of the House or to the Joint Committee of the two Houses, (iii) or it may circulate the Bill for eliciting opinion thereon. At this stage, the principle of the Bill and its provisions may be discussed generally but the details cannot be discussed further than is necessary to explain its principles.
Referred to Select Committee : If a motion for circulation is adopted and the Bill is duly circulated the next step is for it to be referred to a Select or Joint Committee which considers the Bill clause-byclause, just as the two Houses of Parliament do.
Amendments can be moved to the various clauses by members of the Committee. After the Bill has been considered, the Committee submits its report to the House Members.
Consideration by the House : On receipt of the Committee’s report, the Bill as reported by the Committee is taken up for consideration by the House. Each clause is considered and put to vote.
At this stage, amendments may be moved. The presiding officer is empowered to decide which amendments may be moved, although he may not always exercise this power. Once the clause-by-clause consideration is over and every clause is voted, the second reading of the Bill is over.
The final or ‘third reading’ stage of a Bill is reached only after the clauses (with amendments), the Schedules, if any, the enacting formula or preamble, if any, and the title of the Bill have all-been put to vote (in the form that they stand part of the Bill) and agreed to by the House. The third reading is in effect a motion that the Bill be passed. After a Bill has been considered and passed by one House, it is sent to the other for its concurrence, where it has to pass through a similar procedure. The House may agree to it or it may sent it back with amendments for consideration.
Where a Bill is returned with amendments by the Rajya Sabha to the Lok Sabha, and the latter agrees to the amendements made, the Bill is passed as amended, and a message to the effect is sent to the Rajya Sabha. In case of disagreement between the Houses on a Bill, other than a Money Bill and a Constitution Amendment Bill there is provision in the Constitution for a joint sitting of the two Houses, where the fate of the Bill is finally decided.
Presidential Assent : When a Bill has been passed by both Houses, it is submitted to the President for his assent. Once the Presidential assent is given to the Bill, it becomes an Act of Parliament.
The President can, except in the case of a Money Bill, withhold his assent to a Bill and return the Bill with his recommendations. If the Houses pass the Bill again with or without amendments the pesident does not withhold assent therefrom.
As defined in Art. 110, a Bill is known as a ‘Money Bill’ if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters: (a) the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax; (b) the regulation of the borrowing of money by the Government; (c) the custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into or the withdrawal of moneys from any such fund; (d) the appropriation of moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India; (e) the declaring of any expenditure to be expenditure charged on the Consolidated fund of India or the increasing of the amount of any such expenditure; (f) the receipt of money on account of the Consolidated fund of India or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a State, or (g) any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f) [Art. 110].
If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the House of the People thereon shall be final. This means that the nature of a Bill which is certified by the Speaker as a Money Bill shall not be open to question either in a Court of law or in the either House or even by the President.
Procedure for passing Money Bills : A Money Bill shall not be introduced in the Council of States. After a Money Bill has been passed by the House of the people, it shall be transmitted (with the Speaker’s certificate that it is a Money Bill) to the Council of States for its recommendations. The Council of States cannot reject a Money bill nor amend it by virtue of its own powers. It must, within a period of fourteen days from the date of receipt of the Bill, return the Bill to the House of the People which may thereupon either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Council of States. If the House of the People accepts any of the recommendations of the Council of States, the Money Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses with the amendments recommended by the Council of States and accepted by the House of the People.
If the House of the people does not accept any of the recommendations of the council of States, the Money Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses in the form in which it is passed by the House of the People without any of the amendments recommended by the Council of States.
If a Money Bill passed by the House of the People and transmitted to the Council of States for its recommendations is not returned to the House of the People within the said period of fourteen days, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses at the expiration of the said period in the form in which it was passed by the House of the People [Art. 109].
A Financial Bill may be any Bill which relates to revenue of expenditure. But it is in a technical sense that the expression is used in the Constitution.
On the question whether any Bill comes under any of the sub-clauses of Art. 110, the decision of the Speaker of the House of the people is final and his certificate that a particular Bill is a Money Bill is not liable to be questioned. Thus, only those Financial Bills are Money Bills which bear the certificate of the Speaker as such.
Financial Bills which do not receive the Speaker’s certificate are of two classes. These are dealt with in Art. 117 of the Constitution : (i) To the first class belongs a Bill which contains any of the matters specified in Art. 110 but does not consist solely of those matters, for example, a Bill which contains a taxation clause, but does not deal solely with taxation [Art. 117(1)]. (ii) Any ordinary Bill which contains provisions involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund is a Financial Bill of the second class [Art. 117(3)
Three different Clases of Bills Compared
(i) A Money Bill cannot be introduced in the Council of States nor can it be introduced except on the recommendation of the president. Again, the Council of States has no power to amend or reject such a Bill. It can only recommend amendments to the House of the People.
(ii) A Financial Bill of the first class has two features in common with a Money bill, viz., that is cannot be introduced in the Council of States and also cannot be introduced except on the recommendation of the president. But not being a Money Bill, the Council of States has the same power to reject or amend such a Financial Bill as it has in the case of non-Financial Bills subject to the limitation that an amendment other than for reduction or abolition of a tax cannot be moved in either House without the President’s recommendation. Such a Bill has to be passed in the Council of States through three readings like ordinary Bills and in case of a final disagreement between the two houses over such a Bill, the provision for joint sitting in Art. 108 is attracted.
Only Money Bills are excepted out of the provisions relating to a joint sitting [Art. 108 (1)].
(iii) A Bill which merely involves expenditure and does not include any of the matters specified in Art. 110, is an ordinary bill and may be initiated in either House and the Council of States has full power to reject or amend it. But it has only one special incident in view of the financial provision (i.e., provision involving expenditure contained in it) viz., that it must not be passed in either House unless the president has recommended the consideration of the Bill. In other words, the president’s recommendation is not a condition precedent to its introduction as in the case of Money Bills and other Financial Bills of the first class but in this case it will be sufficient if the President’s recommendation is received before the Bill is considered. Without such recommendations, however, the consideration of such Bill cannot take place [Art. 117 (3)].
But for this special incident, a Bill which merely involves expenditure is governed by the same procedure as an ordinary Bill, including the provision of a joint sitting in case of disagreement between the two Houses.
Provisions for resolving a deadlock between the two Houses if they fail to agree either as to the provisions of the Bill as introduced or as to the amendments that may have been proposed by either House are as follows:
(i) As regards Money Bills, the question does not arise, since the House of the People has the final power of passing it, the other House having the power only to make recommendation for the acceptance of the House of the people. In case of disagreement over a Money Bill, thus, the lower House has the plenary power to override the wishes of the upper House, i.e., the Council of States.
(ii) As regards all other Bills (including ‘Financial Bills’), the machinery provided by the Constitution for resolving a disagreement between the two Houses of parliament is a joint sitting of the two Houses [Art. 108].
The President may notify to the Houses his intention to summon them for a joint sitting in case of disagreement arising between the two Houses in any of the following ways. If, after a Bill has been passed by one House and transmitted to the other Houses:
(a) the bill is rejected by the other House; or
(b) the Houses have finally disagreed as to the amendments to be made in the Bill; or
(c) more than six months have elapsed from the date of the reception of the Bill by the other House without the Bill being passed by it.
No such notification can be made by the President if the Bill has already lapsed by the dissolution of the House of the People, but once the president has notified his intention to hold a joint sitting, the subsequent dissolution of the House of the People cannot stand in the way of the joint sitting being held.
As stated earlier, the Speaker will preside at the joint sitting; in the absence of the Speaker, such person as is determined by the Rules of Procedure made by the President (in consultation with the Chairman of Council of States and the Speaker of the House of people) shall preside [Art. 118(4)].
There are restrictions on the amendments to the Bill which may be proposed at the joint sitting.
(a) If, after its passage in one House, the billhas been rejected or has not been returned by the other House, only such amendments may be proposed at the joint sitting as are made necessary by the delay in the passage of the Bill.
(b) If the deadlock has been caused because the other House has proposed amendments to which the originating House cannot agree, then (i) amendments necessary owing to the delay in the passage of the Bill, as well as (ii) other amendments as are relevant to the matters with respect to which the House have disagreed, may be proposed at the joint sitting.
If at the joint sitting of the two Houses the Bill, with such amendments, if any, as are agreed to in joint sitting, is passed by a majority of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting, it shall be deemed for the purposes of this Constitution to have been passed by both Houses.
It is to be noted that the procedure for joint sitting, as prescribed by Art. 108, is confined to Bills for ordinary legislation and does not extend to a Bill for amendment of the Constitution, which is governed by Art. 368(2), and must, therefore, be passed by each House, separately, by the special majority laid down.
According to Art. 112, at the beginning of every financial year, the President shall, in respect of the financial year, cause to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the government of India for the year. This is known as the “annual financial statement” (i.e., the Budget’). It also states the ways and means of meeting the estimated expenditure. The estimates of expenditure embodied in the annual financial statement shall show separately. (i) the sums required to meet expenditure described by this Constitution as expenditure charged upon the consolidated Fund of India; and (ii) the sums required to meet other expnditure proposed to be made from the Consolidated Fund of India.
So much of the estimates as relates to expenditure charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India shall not be submitted to the vote of Parliament but each House is competent to discuss any of these estimates. So much of the estimates as relates to other expenditure shall be submitted in the form of demands for grants to the house of the People, andthat House shall have power to assent, or to refuse to assent, to any demand, or to assent to any demand subject to a reduction of the amount specified therein. No demand for a grant shall however be made except on the recommendation of the President [Art. 113].
After the Annual Financial Statement is presented, there is a general discussion of the Statement as a whole in either House. No motion is moved at this stage nor is the Budget submitted to vote. The Council of States shall have no further business with the Annual Financial Statement beyond the general discussion. The voting of the grants, that is, of the demands for expenditure made by Government, is an exclusive business of the House of the people. In the House of the people, after the general discussion is over, estimates are submitted in the form of demands for grants on the particular heads and it is followed by a vote of the House on each of the heads [Art. 113 (2)]. After the grants are voted by the House of the People, the grants so made by the House of the People as well as the expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India are incorporated in an Appropriation Bill. It provides the legal authority for the withdrawal of these sums from the Consolidated Fund of India.
Similarly, the taxing proposals of the budget are embodied in another Bill known as the Annual Finance Bill.
Both these Bills being Money Bills, the special procedure relating to Money Bills shall have to be followed.
No money can be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund except under an Appropriation Act, passed as follows : As soon as may be after the demands for grants have been voted by the House of the people, there shall be introduced a Bill to provide for the appropriation out of the Consolidated Fund of India of all moneys required to meet :
(i) the grants so made by the House of the people; and
(ii) the expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
This Bill will then be passed as a Money Bill, subject to the condition that no amendment shall be proposed to any such Bill in either House of parliament which will have the effect of varying the amount or altering the destination of any grant so made or of varying the amount of any expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund [Art. 114].