Money Bill refers to a bill (draft law) introduced in the Lower Chamber of Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) which generally covers the issue of receipt and spending of money, such as tax laws, laws governing borrowing and expenditure of the Government, prevention of black money etc.
The term “money bill” hence, connotes certain characteristics of the proposed bill.
Under Article 110(1) of the Constitution of India a money bill is defined as follows…
110(1)…a Bill is deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters, namely:
(a) the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
(b) the regulation of the borrowing of money or the giving of any guarantee by the Government of India, or the amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations undertaken or to be undertaken by the Government of India;
(c) the custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into or the withdrawal of moneys from any such fund;
(d) the appropriation of moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
(e) the declaring of any expenditure to be expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or the increasing of the amount of any such expenditure;
(f) the receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a State;
(g) any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f).
(2.) A Bill is not deemed to be Money Bill by reason only that it provides for the imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment of fees for licences or fees for services rendered, or by reason that it provides for the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body for local purposes….
Features of Money Bills
Essentially a Money bill has the following features:
- It can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (lower chamber of the Parliament)
- The bill is placed in Rajya Sabha (Upper chamber of the Parliament) thereafter and Rajya Sabha can return the Bill with or without its recommendations.
- In any case, the Bill has to be returned within a period of 14 days from the date of its receipt by Rajya Sabha. Otherwise it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses at the expiration of the said period in the form in which it was passed by Lok Sabha.
- If the bill is returned to Lok Sabha without recommendation, a message to that effect is reported by the Secretary-General to the Lok Sabha if in session, or published in the Bulletin for the information of the members of the Parliament, if it is not in session. The Bill shall then be presented to the President for his assent.
- If the bill is returned to the Lok Sabha with amendments it has to be laid on the Table of the House and taken up for consideration.
- However, Lok Sabha is not bound to accept these amendments. Lok Sabha, under Article 109 of the Constitution, has the option to accept or reject all or any of the recommendations made by Rajya Sabha. In any case, Lok Sabha has to inform Rajya Sabha about the status of their recommendations, as to whether they have been accepted or not. It is not that Lok Sabha does not accept any of the recommendations of Rajya Sabha. For instance, in the Income Tax Bill, 1961, Rajya Sabha did recommend a number of amendments of substantial character, all of which were agreed to by Lok Sabha.
- If Lok Sabha accepts any amendments as recommended by the Rajya Sabha, the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both the Houses of the Parliament ‘with the amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha and accepted by the Lok Sabha’ and a message to that effect has to be sent to the Rajya Sabha.
- If Lok Sabha does not accept the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha, the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both the Houses in the form in which it ‘was passed by the Lok Sabha without any of the amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha’.
- In all other bills final passing of the bill happens at Rajya Sabha. In case of money bills, final passing happens at Lok Sabha and then it is sent to the President for his assent.
- Unlike other bills, the President cannot return the Money Bill with his recommendations to the Lok Sabha for reconsideration.
A defeat of Money bill in Lok Sabha is deemed political/parliamentary defeat of the government of the day. Speaker has unquestionable powers to decide if a Bill is a Money Bill or not. It cannot be questioned in any court. Rajya Sabha (Upper chamber of the Parliament)’s dissent on a Money Bill is of no political significance, as the Lok Sabha has overriding powers on Money Bills. Money bill cannot be referred to even joint Committees of the two Houses of the Parliament (to resolve differences between the two Houses), as is in the case of other bills. The Standing Committee of the Parliament also cannot scrutinize a Money Bill.