From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Read the attached story
Mains level : Efficiency of legislative procedures in India
- Vice Prez. called for a debate on a Constitutional provision that provides for automatic lapsing of any Bill passed by LS but remains pending in RS on the dissolution of the LS.
- A “rethink” on the provision, he said, will not let Lok Sabha’s time go waste.
Pendency of Bills
- Presently Lok Sabha has to take somehow 22 Bills again for consideration and passing. It would take a minimum of two sessions for doing so.
- This directly means that earlier efforts of Lok Sabha for passing these 22 Bills have been rendered waste.
- Among the 33 Bills that have survived in Rajya Sabha after the Lok Sabha term came to an end are some that have been pending for decades.
- Three Bills have been pending for more than 20 years, six Bills for 10-20 years, 14 Bills for 5-10 years and 10 Bills for less than 5 years.
- The oldest pending Bill, The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 1987, has been pending for over 32 years.
Why it matters?
- It takes considerable time and energy to get a Bill passed in either House of Parliament.
- Given the implications for the functioning of Parliament and such lapses hampers productivity of the Houses of Parliament.
What can be done?
- In order to streamline the process, VP suggested that if a Bill is not taken up for consideration and passing in Rajya Sabha within five years of introduction, such pending Bills should be treated as deemed to have lapsed.
- The present dysfunctional, disruptive environment must change, urged VP.
- Parliamentarians must use the time available for debates most productively.
When does a Bill lapse in Indian Parliament?
Depending on the status of the pending legislation, and where it originated, there are certain cases in which the Bill lapses on dissolution of Assembly.
- Bills originated in Lok Sabha
- Any Bill that originated in the Lok Sabha, but could not be passed, lapses.
- A Bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha also lapses
- Bills originated in Rajya Sabha
- The Constitution also gives MPs in Rajya Sabha the power to introduce a Bill.
- Therefore a Bill that originated in Rajya Sabha and was passed by it, but remains pending in Lok Sabha also lapses.
- A Bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajya Sabha on the date of the dissolution of Lok Sabha lapses.
When a Bill does not lapse
- Not all Bills, which haven’t yet become law, lapse at the end of the Lok Sabha’s term.
- A Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha, but not passed by the Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
- A Bill passed by both the Houses but pending assent of the President of India, does not lapse.
- A Bill passed by both Houses but returned by the President of India for reconsideration of the Parliament does not lapse.
- Some pending Bills and all pending assurances that are to be examined by the Committee on Government Assurances also does not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
Exceptions for a Joint Sitting
- Apart from the aforementioned exceptions, another situation when a Bill does not automatically lapse with end of the final Parliament session is if the president calls for a joint sitting to vote on a Bill.
- Article 108 of the Constitution states that the president may, unless the Bill has elapsed by reason of a dissolution of the LS, summon both Houses to meet in a joint sitting for the purpose of deliberating and voting on the Bill.
- If at the joint sitting of the two Houses, the Bill, with such amendments, if any, is passed by a majority of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses.
- However there is no provision of joint sittings on a Money Bill or a Amendment Bill.
What happens to Bills that have lapsed?
- If a Bill is elapsed by virtue of one or more of the conditions explained above, it will have to be reintroduced in the new Lok Sabha (as is or with amendments) should the new government feel the need for it.
Alternative: Promulgating an Ordinance (Art.123)
- The lapse of a Bill in Parliament still does not prevent the incumbent government from issuing an Ordinance to bring forth the legislation it intended to through the lapsed Bill.
- According to the Constitution, the government of the day can bring in Ordinance if the Parliament is not in session and if the president is convinced of the urgency of the matter that it can’t wait till the House comes in session again.
- The Constitution does not explicitly bans a government nearing the end of its term from doing so.
- Since the lifespan of an ordinance in six months, or till the Parliament’s next session (which in this case will be after the election of 17th Lok Sabha) any ordinance promulgated by the current government is likely to outlive its tenure.