Private Members Bills
What is a Private Members Bills?
- An MP who is not a minister is a private member and while both private members and ministers take part in the lawmaking process, Bills introduced by private members are referred to as private members Bills and those introduced by ministers are called government Bills.
Government Bills and Private Bills
- Government Bills are backed by the government and also reflect its legislative agenda. The admissibility of a private Bill is decided by the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha.
- Before the Bill can be listed for introduction, the Member must give at least a month’s notice, for the House Secretariat to examine it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation. While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.
Has a private member’s bill ever become a law?
- As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.
- In the 14th Lok Sabha, of the over 300 private member’s Bills introduced, roughly four per cent were discussed, the remaining 96 per cent lapsed without a single dialogue.
- The selection of Bills for discussion is done through a ballot.
- The first private member bill to become a law was the Muslim Wakfs Bill, 1952. Aimed to provide better governance and administration of wakfs, it was introduced by Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kasmi in the Lok Sabha and was passed in 1954.
- 14 private member’s bills — five of which were introduced in Rajya Sabha — have become law so far.
Amendment of Private Members Bills
- A Bill for amendment of the Constitution by a Private Member is governed by the rules applicable to Private Members’ Bills in general.
- The period of one month’s notice applies to such a Bill also.
- In addition, in Lok Sabha, such a Bill has to be examined and recommended by the Committee on Private Members Bills before it is included in the List of Business.
The Committee has laid down the following principles as guiding criteria in making their recommendations in regard to these Bills:
“(i) The Constitution should be considered as a sacred document — a document which should not be lightly interfered with and it should be amended only when it is found absolutely necessary to do so. Such amendments may generally be brought forward when it is found that the interpretation of the various articles and provisions of the Constitution has not been in accordance with the intention behind such provisions and cases of lacunae or glaring inconsistencies have come to light. Such amendments should, however, normally be brought by the Government after considering the matter in all its aspects and consulting experts, and taking such other advice as they may deem fit.
(ii) Some time should elapse before a proper assessment of the working of the Constitution and its general effect is made so that any amendments that may be necessary are suggested as a result of sufficient experience.
(iii) Generally speaking, notice of Bills from Private Members should be examined in the background of the proposal or measures which the Government may be considering at the time so that consolidated proposals are brought forward before the House by the Government after collecting sufficient material and taking expert advice.
(iv) Whenever a Private Members Bills raises issues of far-reaching importance and public interest, the Bill might be allowed to be introduced so that public opinion is ascertained and gauged to enable the House to consider the matter further. In determining whether a matter is of sufficient public importance, it should be examined whether the particular provisions in the Constitution are adequate to satisfy the current ideas and public demand at the time. In other words, the Constitution should be adapted to the current needs and demands of the progressive society and any rigidity which may impede progress should be avoided.
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