In this article we will discuss about the presidential address and legislative business of the parliament of India.
Presidential Address of the Parliament:
Each new Parliament and budget session every year is addressed by the President. In order to listen him both the Houses assemble in a joint session. It is a solemn occasion but unfortunately in the past in India several times opposition parties left the House, as soon as President started addressing the House, either on one pretext or the other.
At times he is disturbed when he is reading his Address. Though this tendency has all along been deprecated, yet it is continuing both at the centre as well as in the states.
In his Address the President outlines the policies and programmes of his government and the opposition uses the opportunity to criticise the government when the motion is brought before the House for passing vote of thanks for the President for his addressing the Parliament.
The opposition has every right to move any amendment motion to the vote of thanks. During the course of debate the government clarifies policies and programmes, when and where necessary.
Peculiar Position after 1996 Elections:
After 1996 General elections held for the Lok Sabha B.J.P. emerged as the single largest party and formed government at the Centre. It prepared an Address for the President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma which he read on 24th May, 1996 before joint session of Parliament, but before a vote of thanks could be moved the government resigned.
On 1st June, 1996 United Front government assumed power but it did not agree on Presidential Address. In order to avoid controversies and to amicably resolve the issue political parties, including B.J.P. resolved not to press for a motion moving for a vote of thanks to the President for his addressing to joint session of Parliament.
Since most of the work of the House these days is done through Committees, therefore, as already pointed out from amongst the members of the House, the Speaker nominates members of the Committees. He also nominates Presiding Officer of the each.
When, however, Deputy Speaker is member of any committee, he always presides over its deliberations. Each committee, of course, submits its report to the President Officer, who in turn causes it laid on the Table of the House for its approval.
Legislative Business of the Parliament:
The most important and difficult task of the Parliament, of course, is to enact laws Both money as well as non-money bills come before each House. These can be sponsored by the government as well as by private members, namely, those who do not belong to the government.
A Private Member Bill can see the light of the day only when it has unqualified support and backing of the government Each Bill which comes before the House has to pass through several stages before it can become an Act.
First stage of the Bill is when the mover of the Bill introduces it in the House. At this stage simply title of the Bill is read a very brief speech is made explaining the Bill focusing attention on its and main features. Also at this stage some of the important and controversial bills are opposed. In such a situation both the opposition as well as the mover of the bill is given an opportunity to explain his view point.
After first reading comes second reading, which is very important for the Bill. It is at this stage that the bill is discussed at great length and clause by clause. At this stage the mover of the Bill may propose that the Bill be taken into consideration, or that it may be referred to a Select Committee, or to a Joint Select Committee of both the Houses or that it may be circulated for eliciting public opinion thereon.
When it is decided that the bill be referred to the committee, either Select or Joint, it is called Committee stage.
It is however not essential that every Bill must go to a Committee. The House can, and in many cases in fact, it takes the Bill into consideration direct without referring it to any Committee. In case it is referred to the Committee, a date is fixed by which it is required to send back its report to the House. In case it is not possible for the Committee to complete its work by that date it approaches the House for the extension of time.
After Committee stage, then comes the Report stage. The Committee to which the bill is referred, has full power to make suggestions for the improvement of the Bill. When the Bill is referred back to the House, any member may suggest that the Bill as reported back by the Committee, may be taken into consideration, or that it may be recommitted to the Committee or that the bill in its modified form may be circulated for eliciting public opinion. The bill at this stage is discussed clause by clause and on each clause approval of the House is taken. At this stage several amendments are moved.
After the bill has passed through this stage then it is treated to have been passed by the House in which it originated. It is authenticated by the Presiding Officer of the House. In case the other House also passes the Bill without any amendments then it is sent to the President for his approval.
As already said in case there are differences between the two Houses over a non-money Bill these are resolved by calling a joint sitting of the House, whereas differences over money bills can easily be solved. The Lower House may not agree to the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha and pass the Bill in its original form.
That then need not go to the Rajya Sabha again but is sent to the President for his approval. The Rajya Sabha can keep a money bill with itself at the most for a fortnight.
No Bill can become an Act unless that has been assented by the President. He is required to give his assent to a money bill immediately but he has some discretion in so far as non-money bills are concerned. In such cases, the President can return the Bill to the originating House for its reconsideration.
In case, however, the Bill is again passed by both the Houses in same or amended form and sent back to the President, then he will have to sign, that as well. Thus, the President can delay his assent for some time but cannot ultimately stand on the way of Parliament.
In case the House is prorogued, the Bills pending in the House at time do not lapse and are taken over as pending bills for the next session of the House. Similarly when a Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha, that does not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
But a bill which is pending in the Lok Sabha or which having been passed by the Lok Sabha is pending in the Rajya Sabha lapses on the dissolution of the Lower House. A Bill even if that originates in the Rajya Sabha and is pending in the Lok Sabha for approval, lapses with the dissolution of the House.
But when the President has called for a Joint Session of Parliament, prior to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the bills which are passed by the Lok Sabha before dissolution and are pending in the Rajya Sabha, shall not lapse. Only such Bills shall lapse which are pending on dissolutions and not those Bills which are pending with the President for his assent.