Daily Answer Writing
22 February 2021

Q) The frequent misuse of the "Money Bills" impinge on the very purpose and authority of the house of Representatives. Comment (250 Words)

Source: The Hindu Editorial: Voice vote as constitutional subterfuge

Topic: GS 2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Approach Answer:

Introduction: Rajya Sabha’ or the ‘Council of States’ is the second chamber of the Indian parliament. It originated after the passage of Government of India act, 1919. Post Independence it became a means to institutionalise the federal principle of power-sharing between the Centre and states. However, in the recent times, it has been observed that various means have been utilized to bypass the authority of Rajya Sabha.

Money bill: A Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to taxation, borrowing of money by the government, expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India. Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.

Declaration of a Money bill: is done by the speaker of the Lok Sabha, and it is final, and not subject to Judicial review.

 

Misuse of Money Bill: Often Speaker passes an ordinary bill as a money bill to by-pass the authority of the Rajya Sabha. For example:  the Money Bill route, utilised increasingly in instances even where the laws concerned would not easily fit within that definition. Most important of them, the Aadhaar Bill was passed in this manner, and was limited in application subsequently by the Supreme Court of India for that reason.

Purpose and Authority of Rajya Sabha:

Safety Valve of India’s Federal Polity: It is a means to give representation to the states. It is a legislative check on the legislature itself, so that the brute majority in the house of commons does not hurt the interests of the federal units.

Legislative review: It keeps a check on the hasty legislation that could be passed by the lower house under populist pressures.

Deliberative Body:  Parliament is not only a legislative body but also a deliberative one which enables the members to debate major issues of public importance.

Check on executive powers: The Upper House also has some special powers to keep a check on the executive, such as:

  • Power to transfer a subject from the State List to Union List for a specified period (Article 249).
  • To create additional All-India Services (Article 312).
  • To endorse Emergency under Article 352 for a limited period when the Lok Sabha remains dissolved.

           Representing the wider public:

  • Proportional Representation gives them a chance to get involved in the nation’s law-making process.
  • It gives chance to the various non-political experts of various field to be nominated and advice the house.

 

Problems of Passing a bill as a money bill:

  1. Authority of the Rajya Sabha undermined:
    1. Legislative authority undermined: It is unable to move amendments.
    2. Federal authority undermined: It is unable to defend, if the legislation is made on the matter of state list, or affecting the states otherwise.
    3. Independence of the house undermined: Rajya Sabha is an independent chamber; It becomes dependent, as it take cues from the lower house.
    4. Purpose of the Rajya Sabha forfeited:
      • Deliberation: It is not allowed to deliberate on important matters in the house. As Money bill can stay only for 15 days in Rajya Sabha.
      • Legislative Check: It is unable to keep a check by recommending amendments or blocking the bills it thinks are not in the interests of the states or the people.
      • Shallow Democracy: When the representation is limited to the majority, the democracy is not considered wide or deep. Rajya Sabha gives a wider representation to the local parties due to the PR System, and nomination of people with special knowledge.

 

Conclusion: Rajya Sabha as the second chamber of the parliament intended to play certain roles as a permanent house (it never dissolves like Lok sabha and one-third of its members retire every two years), revisionary house (reconsidering bills passed by the Lok Sabha) and offers a degree of continuity in the underlying policies of laws passed by parliament, and not a “clog in the wheel of progress”. Any undermining of the purpose of the house through the Means of bypassing legislation would be detrimental to the federal structure of India.

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