7-judge Bench to take a call on the Money Bill case
Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud’s seven-judge Supreme Court bench announced on Thursday that it will “take a call” on petitioners’ request to give precedence to a reference regarding how the Center got important amendments passed as Money Bills in Parliament.
What is a Money bill?
- A money bill is a type of legislation that addresses matters of finance, including taxes, government revenue, spending, debt, and the fight against black money.
- The Indian Constitution’s Article 110 defines money bills.
- Only the Lok Sabha, the lowest chamber of Parliament, may introduce them. The higher chamber, the Rajya Sabha, is not allowed to change or reject a money bill.
- A money bill is subject to the President’s approval or rejection; it cannot be returned for further review.
What is the difference between a Money bill and a General Bill?
- A money bill differs from an ordinary bill primarily in that it does not require the Rajya Sabha’s approval to become law, although regular legislation does require permission from both houses of Parliament.
- A money bill is a subset of a finance bill that can only address the issues listed in Article 110 (1) (a) through (g) of the Indian Constitution. Only after being approved by the Rajya Sabha and forwarded to the Lok Sabha for approval can a money bill be passed. The bill becomes a law if the President signs it into law.
- A minister or a private member can introduce an ordinary bill in the Lok Sabha. Ordinary bills must pass both chambers to become law. The President can return ordinary bills for reconsideration, accept them, or reject them.
What are the recent bills passed in the parliament as Money bills?
- Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023
- Aadhaar Bill
- Finance Acts passed in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019
Why is it concerning that bills are passed as money bills?
- Bypassing the Rajya Sabha: Money Bills are designed to avoid the Rajya Sabha, which is India’s parliament’s upper house. This indicates that they are not subjected to the same level of legislative review in both houses as other measures. Because it curtails the Rajya Sabha’s involvement in the legislative process—which serves as a check and balance—this can be viewed as anti-democratic.
- Executive Control: There are worries that the government would designate bills as Money bills to avoid the Rajya Sabha’s oversight and amendment-making authority over legislation. This would lessen the essential democratic system of checks and balances by giving the executive branch greater authority over the legislative process.
- Abuse of the Money Bill Provision: It may be considered an abuse of the provision of bills that are passed as Money Bills but are not primarily pecuniary. An example of the Finance Act of 2017 being passed as a Money Bill, purportedly to change the makeup of important judicial bodies and increase executive power, may be found in the article you linked. This may give rise to questions regarding the improper application of the Money Bill classification for non-financial uses.
- Effect on the Operation of Parliament: Enacting non-financial bills as Money Bills can have a significant impact on how Parliament operates. It may have an impact on how laws are drafted and lessen the Rajya Sabha’s ability to represent the interests of various states and regions of India.
This court case could have a big impact on India’s parliamentary system and raises difficult constitutional and legislative issues. We will have to wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling before gaining any clarification on the passing of amendments like Money Bills.