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The legislative procedure in India is quite elaborate. A bill has to pass through numerous stages before it becomes law. There is a slightly different procedure for the passage of ordinary bills and money bills.
An ordinary bill can be introduced in either house of the Parliament and has to pass through the following stages in each house, before it is submitted to the President for his assent.
At this stage, the title of the bill is read and a brief speech regarding the aims and objective of the bill is made. Opponents of the bill also make a brief speech at this stage and after a formal vote, the bill is published in gazette.
At this stage the general principles of the bill as a whole are discussed and decision regarding reference of the bill to the appropriate committee is taken. No amendments are possible at this stage.
After the second reading, the bill is referred to the appropriate committee where its provisions are thoroughly discussed. The committee can also make suitable suggestions for improvement of the bill and suggest necessary amendments.
The committee submits its report to the House, where it is thoroughly discussed. The members of the House hold a clause-by-clause discussion and vote thereon. At this stage, they can also propose fresh amendments, which are accepted by majority vote.
A general discussion on the bill takes place and formal voting for the acceptance or rejection of the bill is held. No amendments can be proposed at this stage.
After a bill has been passed by one house, it is transmitted to the other house, where it goes through all these stages once again. After a bill has been passed by the other house, it is sent to the President for assent. However, if the other house proposes certain amendments which are not acceptable to the originating house, it may lead to a deadlock. The deadlock is resolved by convening a joint sitting of the two houses, where the decision is taken by majority vote.
The President can either accord his assent or return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. But if the Parliament repasses the bill, the President has to accord his assent to it.
A money bill deals with the imposition or abolition of tax, borrowing of money by the Government of India, custody and maintenance of the Consolidated Fund or Contingency Fund or the Public Accounts of India and the audit of the accounts of the union and state. The final decision, whether a bill is a money bill or not, rests with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
The procedure of the passage of the money bill is quite different from the procedure for enactment of an ordinary bill. A money bill can originate only in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the President. After a money bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha is given 14 days to make its recommendations. If it fails to make its recommendations within this period, the bill is considered to have been passed by both the houses and is transmitted to the President for his assent.
If the Rajya Sabha returns the bill within 14 days with its recommendations, it is up to the Lok Sabha to accept or reject the recommendations. Even if the Lok Sabha does not accept the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both the houses in the form in which it was originally transmitted to the Rajya Sabha. Thus, with regard to money bills, the final authority rests with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha can delay its enactment for a maximum period of 14 days.
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