Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Making a Law ‘Operational’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 111, Presidents assent

Mains level : Law-making process

In the ongoing stalemate between protesting farmers and the Centre, the government has repeated its offer of keeping the three contentious farm laws on hold for one to one-and-a-half years.

Bringing/removing a law

  • Parliament has the power to make a law and to remove it from the statute books (a law can be struck down by the judiciary if it is unconstitutional).
  • But the passing of a Bill does not mean that it will start working from the next day.
  • There are three more steps for it to become a functioning law.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Who/Which of the following is the custodian of the Constitution of India?

(a) The President of India

(b) The Prime Minister of India

(c) The Lok Sabha Secretariat

(d) The Supreme Court of India

Making a law operational

  • The first step is the President giving his or her assent to the Bill.
  • Then the law comes into effect from a particular date. President Kovind signed the three farm Bills into law within a week of their passing in September 2020.
  • And finally, the government frames the rules and regulations to make the law operational on the ground.
  • The completion of these steps determines when the law becomes functional.

Presidents’ actions

  • Article 111 of the Constitution specifies that the President can either sign off on the Bill or withhold his consent.
  • The President rarely withholds their assent to a Bill.
  • The last time it happened was in 2006 when President APJ Abdul Kalam refused to sign a Bill protecting MPs from disqualification for holding an office of profit.
  • A Bill is sent to Parliament for reconsideration if the President withholds his or her assent on it.
  • And if Parliament sends it back to the President, he or he has no choice but to approve it.

A curious case of date of effect

  • The next step is deciding the date on which the law comes into effect.
  • In many cases, Parliament delegates to the government the power to determine this date.
  • The Bill states that the law “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act”.

Example:  Parliament passed the Recycling of Ships Act in December 2019. In October 2020, the government brought Section 3 of the law into force.  This section empowers the government to designate an officer to supervise all ship recycling activities in India.

Giving effect to the implementation

  • There are also instances when the government does not bring a law into force for many years.
  • Two examples are the National Environment Tribunal Act and the Delhi Rent Control Act, which Parliament passed during PM P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure.
  • The government never brought these laws into force, which were passed in 1995 and cleared by the President.
  • The NGT Act finally repealed the environmental tribunal law in 2010. And a Bill to repeal the Delhi Rent Control Act introduced in 2013 is still pending in Rajya Sabha

Rules & regulations to be made

  • For the law to start working on the ground, individuals need to be recruited or given the power, to administer it.
  • The implementing ministry also needs to finalise forms to gather information and provide benefits or services.
  • These day-to-day operational details are called rules and regulations. And Parliament gives the government the responsibility of making them. These regulations are critical for the functioning of law.
  • If the government does not make rules and regulations, law or parts of it will not get implemented.

Example: The Benami Transactions Act of 1988 is an example of a complete law remaining unimplemented. For 25 years, such properties were immune from seizure in the absence of framing relevant government rules. The law was finally repealed in 2016 and replaced with a new one.

A final word on implementation

  • Parliament has recommended that the government make rules within six months of passing a law.
  • But parliamentary committees have observed that this recommendation is being followed in breach by various ministries.
  • The government not only has the power to make rules but can also suppress rules made by it earlier.

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