Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

The power to certify

The Hindu

Context

  • Recently, the Aadhaar Bill and the Finance Bill were passed as Money Bills, though they may not have met the strict criteria laid out in the Constitution.
  • This meant that the Rajya Sabha had only a recommendatory role while discussing these Bills.
  • While the Speaker has the power to determine whether a Bill fulfils the requirements of a Money Bill, there has to be a check to ensure that this power is not misused.
  • The Supreme Court should examine this issue under its power of judicial review .

What is a Money Bill?

  • Article 110(1) of the Constitution states that a bill can be termed as a Money Bill if it contains “only” six types of provisions or anything incidental to these.
  • Broadly speaking, these include taxation, government receipts and expenditure, government borrowings, and guarantees.

Procedure for the passing of Money Bills

Article 109 of the Constitution laid down the special procedure in respect of Money Bills .  The  following is the procedure for the passing of Money Bills in Parliament :

  • A Money shall not be introduced in the Council of  States.
  • After a Money Bill has been passed by the House of the People it shall be transmitted to the Council of States for its recommendations and the Council of States shall within  as period  of fourteen  days  from the date of receipt  of the Bill return the Bill to the House of the people  with  its recommendations.
  • If the House of the people accepts any of the recommendations of the Council  of the States , the Money Bill  shall be deemed  to have been  passed  by both Houses with the amendments  recommended  by the Council of States and accepted  by the House of the People.
  • If the House of the People  does not accept any of the recommendations of the Council of States  the Money Bill shall be deemed  to have  been passed  by both Houses in the form in which  it was passed  by the House of the People  without  any of the amendments recommended by the Council of States.
  • If a Money Bill passed by the House of the People and transmitted  to the Council  of States for its recommendations and is not returned to the House of the People within the said period of fourteen  days, it shall be deemed to have  been passed by both  houses at the expiration of the said  period in the  form in which  it was passed  by the House of  the People  .

Aadhaar Bill passed as Money Bill

Arguments in favour Arguments against
The primary objective of the Aadhaar Bill is to create a system for providing subsidies, and as the provisions relate to government expenditure the Bill can be termed as a Money Bill. The counterargument is that the Aadhaar Bill has several other provisions, including permitting use of the system for other purposes, so it does not meet the requirement of having “only” the six provisions.

Finance Bill passed as Money Bill

  • The Finance Bill too had provisions other than those related to taxation.
  • It amended the Reserve Bank of India Act to enable the creation of a monetary policy committee.
  • It also amended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (with retrospective effect) to change the definition of foreign company.

Can the Supreme Court examine whether the certificate of the Speaker was correctly given?

  • Article 110(3) states: “If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the House of the People thereon shall be final.”
  • In addition, Article 122 prohibits courts from inquiring into proceedings of Parliament and examining their validity.

Case Study:-

  • In  Mohd. Saeed Siddiqui v State of U.P. , Supreme Court decided that the decision of the Speaker is final and the said decision cannot be disputed nor can the procedure of the State Legislature be questioned by virtue of Article 212.
  • The Article 212 applies to State legislatures and is analogous to Article 122 for Parliament.

If the Supreme Court cannot examine whether the Speaker gave the certificate correctly, what prevents a misuse of this provision to prevent scrutiny by the Rajya Sabha?

  • To illustrate with an extreme example, if a Bill to amend the Indian Penal Code is certified as a Money Bill, is that decision final and not open to judicial scrutiny?
  • There are several prior cases in which the Supreme Court has examined the decision of the Speaker or the legislature.

Case Study:

  • In Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu, the Supreme Court examined the constitutional validity of   Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule.
  • In this case , SC said  that Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule, to the extent it seeks to impart finality to the decision of the Speakers/Chairmen, is valid.
  • But the concept of statutory finality embodied in Paragraph 6 (1) does not detract from or abrogate judicial review under Articles 136,226 and 227 of the Constitution in so far as infirmities based on violations of constitutional mandates, mala fides, non-compliance with Rules of Natural Justice and perversity, are concerned.
  • It went on to say that the protection of Articles 122 and 212 was only to protect the validity of proceedings from mere irregularity of procedure.
  • The Court also struck down paragraph 7 (which barred judicial review) stating that it did not meet the requirements of Article 368(2), which requires ratification of half of all State legislatures for any changes made to provisions related to the higher judiciary.

Case Study:

  • In Amarinder Singh v. Spl. Committee , Punjab Vidhan Sabha , the court has set limits to the privilege of the legislature under Article 122, and overturned its resolution to expel a member.

Conclusion

  • The Constitution has a system of checks and balances, which includes the Rajya Sabha as a check on the Lok Sabha.
  • It requires all Bills to be passed by both Houses, with the exception of Money Bills (as these Bills are effectively equivalent to confidence motions).
  • While the Speaker has the power to determine whether a Bill fulfils the requirements of a Money Bill, there has to be a check to ensure that this power is not misused.
  • The Supreme Court should examine this issue under its power of judicial review under the principles laid out in the Kihoto Hollohan and Raja Ram Pal cases.

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