By: Monojit Majumdar
What is A money bill, where do the two houses stand vis-à-vis money bills, and why is this being debated?
Under Article 110 (1) of the Constitution, a Bill is deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains provisions dealing with six specific matters [Article 110 (1)(a) to (1)(f)] broadly related to imposing, abolishing or regulating a tax; regulating government borrowings; the Consolidated and Contingency Funds of India; and “any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in (the previous six) sub-clauses… [Article 110(1)(g)]”. The expression “incidental to” makes the definition of a Money Bill comprehensive.
“If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not,” Article 110(3) says, “the decision of the Speaker of the House of the People thereon shall be final”.
Under Article 109(1), a Money Bill cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha. Once passed by Lok Sabha, it is sent to Rajya Sabha — along with the Speaker’s certificate that it is a Money Bill — for its recommendations. Rajya Sabha cannot reject or amend the Bill, and must return it within 14 days, after which Lok Sabha may accept or reject its recommendations. In either case, the Bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses. Under Article 109(5), if Rajya Sabha fails to return the Bill to Lok Sabha within 14 days, it is deemed to have been passed anyway.
Non-Money Bills cannot become law unless agreed to by both Houses. In case of a deadlock (if, for example, Rajya Sabha, where the government does not currently have a majority, continues to block legislation indefinitely), Article 108 provides for a joint sitting of both Houses. The Lok Sabha Speaker presides, and the Bill is passed if it is backed by a majority of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting.
This question does not arise in the case of a Money Bill, since it does not go to a joint sitting, and Lok Sabha can override the wish of Rajya Sabha.
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