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Joint sitting of Parliament to fast-track crucial pending bills?

Sunday, 8 June 2014 - 3:06pm IST | Agency: Zee Research Group
The task is cut out for the new government as the president Pranab Mukherjee addresses first joint sitting of parliament in the newly formed 16th Lok Sabha on Monday. But the new government has a huge responsibility of taking a call on 60 pending Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha.
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The task is cut out for the new government as the president Pranab Mukherjee addresses first joint sitting of parliament in the newly formed 16th Lok Sabha on Monday. But the new government has a huge responsibility of taking a call on 60 pending bills pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Some of the important bills pending in the Upper House might get pushed by the BJP led government. They are: the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the Food and Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2013 the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Judicial Appointment Commission Bill, 2013. Establishment of the National Judicial Commission was also part of the BJP’s manifesto in the recently-held general elections.

Moreover, the Narendra Modi government will also need to decide if it wants to restart the process of introducing 68 Bills that lapsed in the previous Lok Sabha. Some of the important bills like Women’s Reservation Bill, Direct Taxes Code, Micro Finance Bill, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill and the Bill enabling the introduction of Goods and Services Tax lapsed.

The Constitution provides that if a bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha and not passed by it, the bill shall not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

To pass a Bill the government requires the support from both the Houses. While NDA is sitting comfortably in the Lok Sabha with about 340 seats, in Rajya Sabha they have just 57 members.  In the current Rajya Sabha BJP enjoys support of 42 members while its ally TDP has six. Shiv Sena and SAD gave three each while RPI, NPF and MNF have one member each.

While the government can easily pass Bills in the Lower House, it might have a problem in the Upper House.

If such situation arises, the government can call joint sitting of both the Houses to push through key bills. As per Article 108 of the Constitution, a joint sitting of both Houses can be called if a bill has been passed by one House and rejected by the other; if the two Houses have finally disagreed on the amendments to be made in the bill; or if more than six months have elapsed after a bill is passed by one House but is not passed by the other.

A joint sitting of both Houses is presided over by the Lok Sabha Speaker and only a simple majority is needed to get a bill passed, which is then immediately sent to the President for his assent.

Under article 118 of the constitution, the President can call a joint session of both the Houses to pass any bill that is not a constitutional amendment bill. In a joint sitting, the total number of members (LS and RS) would be 795 – 545 from the Lok Sabha, including two nominated members, and 250 Rajya Sabha members in its full strength, including 12 nominated ones. With 340 seats in the Lok Sabha, the BJP needs only 60 votes from the Rajya Sabha in a joint sitting.

The previous NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had used this method to pass important bill the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. Earlier it was used twice during the passage of the Dowry Prohibition Act, in 1961 and the Banking Service Commission Repeal Bill in 1978. However, in 2008 joint sitting was called for the fourth time for Women Reservation Bill, but it couldn’t be passed.




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