Go to Legislature 1 of 3
Go to Legislature 2 of 3
The first reading consists of the bill being introduced along with an explanation of its aim and purposes
1) After the second reading, a bill may be
– referred to a select committee or
– circulated for public response or
– taken up for immediate consideration.
The last course is rare and reserved for urgent and uncontroversial items. The second course is the most frequent.
2) The select committee reports back either unanimously or with a majority recommendation and a minority note of dissent.
3) The bill is then considered in the House clause by clause, with members being able to introduce amendments. Once all clauses have been dealt with, the bill has crossed the report stage, and is listed for its third and final reading, which is tidying-up amendments and then the bill is put to vote.
4) If the speaker authenticates its passing, the bill is sent to the second house, where the entire procedure is repeated.
When both Houses of Parliament have passed an identical version of a bill, it is presented to the President for formal assent, and becomes law on receiving his assent.
The work in the parliament requires in-depth study of the issue under consideration. This is done by standing committees for various departments. Composition of the committee is determined by the Speaker and the Chief whip.
Parliamentary committees help to expedite Parliamentary business and to scrutinize the government activities.
Parliamentary committees act as watchdogs in the Parliament to ensure culture of accountability. The financial committees, particularly, are regarded as the most important ones as they unearth ‘scams’ and the convention requires that their recommendations be implemented. There are four broad groups:
– those concerned with the organization and powers of the House eg: rules committee;
– those that assist the House in their legislative functions, for example select committee;
– those that assist the House in making government departments more accountable, for example various standing committees;
those that assist the House in their financial functions such as Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Estimates Committee (EC) etc.
How does the Parliament control the government? – Instruments of Parliamentary control
When the Executive has majority in the Lok Sabha, they have almost absolute and unlimited power. In such a situation, parliamentary democracy may become a ‘Cabinet Dictatorship’, where the Cabinet leads and the house merely follows.
In order to prevent that, there are provisions to make the Executive accountable to the Parliament.
Discussion & deliberation
The members of the Parliament get the opportunity to discuss and deliberate on policies and bills.
Apart from discussions, ‘Question Hour’ (where Ministers have to respond to questions by members) and ‘Zero Hour’ (where members are free to raise issues that they are important) are some instruments of control.
Question Hour is one of the most effective. Maximum attendance is usually recorded in Parliament as these questions are are aimed to elicit information from ministers on issues of public interest.
More info: http://www.parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/intro/p6.htm
Approval/ratification of laws
A bill can become a law only with the approval of the Parliament. If may not be difficult for a government which has a majority in the Legislature. With the arrival of coalition politics in India, such approvals are a result of intense bargaining and negotiations among the members of ruling party or coalition of parties and even government and opposition.
Preparation and presentation of budget for the approval of the legislature is a constitutional obligation of the government. This allows legislature to exercise control over the spending of the government. The legislature may refuse to grant resources to the government. This rarely happens because the government usually has the support of the majority. But 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.
No Confidence motion
The most powerful weapon that enables the Parliament to ensure executive accountability is the no-confidence motion. If the Executive fails to enjoy the support of even one coalition partner, it could lose power.
A Motion of No Confidence can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. The motion is admitted for discussion when a minimum of fifty members of the house supports the motion. If the motion carries, the house debates and votes on the motion. If majority of the members of the house vote in favour of the motion, the motion is passed and the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers are bound to vacate the office.
No legal action may be taken against a member for anything that he/she may have said in the Legislature. Any matters of breach of privilege are decided only by the Presiding officer. This privilege gives the MPs who represent the people effective control over the Executive.