Explained: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, triple talaq bill among 46 draft laws set to lapse as Parliament adjourns sine die

As the final session of the 16th Lok Sabha adjourned sine die on Wednesday, 46 Bills, including the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the one on banning triple talaq, are set to lapse on 3 June when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends.

Of the total 46 draft legislation set to lapse, at least 22 are such which have been passed by the Lok Sabha but will still lapse because the Rajya Sabha did not pass them. Other Bills that will lapse, include, The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016.

The 16th Lok Sabha had a total of 17 sessions and 331 sittings in which a total of 219 Bills were introduced, out of which 205 were passed. Overall productivity was 85 percent, according to PRS Legislative Research.

File photo of the Parliament of India. Twitter @loksabhatv

File photo of the Parliament of India. Twitter @loksabhatv

When does a Bill lapse in Indian Parliament? 

The term of the 16th Lok Sabha is set to end on 3 June, which means any Bills or business that remain pending before 3 June will lapse along with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. However, not all Bills which failed to become a law in the current Lok Sabha will lapse because unlike the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha does not dissolve when the term of a Lok Sabha ends. Depending on the status of the pending legislation, and where it originated, there are certain cases in which the Bill lapses on dissolution of Assembly.

Bills originated in Lok Sabha

  • Any Bill that originated in the Lok Sabha, but could not be passed, lapses.
  • A Bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha also lapses

Bills originated in Rajya Sabha

  • The Constitution also gives MPs in Rajya Sabha the power to introduce a Bill. Therefore a Bill that originated in Rajya Sabha and was passed by it, but remains pending in Lok Sabha also lapses.
  • A Bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajaya Sabha on the date of the dissolution of Lok Sabha lapses.

When a Bill does not lapse

Not all Bills, which haven't yet become law, lapse at the end of the Lok Sabha's term. A Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha, but not passed by the Lok Sabha, does not lapse. A Bill passed by both the Houses but pending assent of the President of India, does not lapse. A Bill passed by both Houses but returned by the President of India for reconsideration of Rajya Sabha does not lapse. Some pending Bills and all pending assurances that are to be examined by the Committee on Government Assurances also does not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

Apart from the aforementioned exceptions, another situation when a Bill does not automatically lapse with end of the final Parliament session, is if the president calls for a joint sitting to vote on a Bill.

Article 108 of the Constitution states that the president may, unless the Bill has elapsed by reason of a dissolution of the Lok Sabha, summon both Houses to meet in a joint sitting for the purpose of deliberating and voting on the Bill. If at the joint sitting of the two Houses, the Bill, with such amendments, if any, as are agreed to in joint sitting, is passed by a majority of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses. However there is no provision of joint sittings on a Money Bill or a Constitution Amending Bill.

Noteworthy Bills lapsing with current Lok Sabha

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: The contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill, proposed to accord Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 11 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document. However, it faced massive protests from the northeastern states that share borders with these countries, and where the general sentiment is against the draft law. The locals believed that this Bill will grant legal status to scores of 'illegal settlers' in their state, thereby diluting the indigenous population of these region. Though the Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 6 February, Rajya Sabha failed to pass it in the just concluded Budget Session. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 8 January.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill: This Bill sought to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-Biddat) a penal offence, following a Supreme Court order that termed the practice illegal and unconstitutional. However, the Opposition blocked the Bill claiming that a jail term for the husband for divorcing his wife is legally untenable. The government promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice. However, it failed to get the legislation passed in the Budget Session, meaning the ordinance will also lapse. A Bill to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September, 2018, was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December and was pending in the Rajya Sabha. Since the Bill could not get parliamentary approval, a fresh ordinance was issued. This, despite the government including certain safeguards in the draft law, including adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016: According to PRS, the Bill sought to define a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. In addition, the person’s gender must not match the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers. The main intent of the Bill was to prohibits discrimination against a transgender person and directing the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes. The Bill states that a person recognised as 'transgender' would have the right to 'self-perceived' gender identity. However, it ran into controversy as the government's definition of a transgender persons’ in the Bill is at variance with the definitions recognised by international bodies and experts in India. Another problem in the Bill was that it was unclear how gender-specific criminal and personal laws — such as adultery and dowry laws that recognise the genders of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ — would apply to transgender persons who may not identify with either of the two genders.

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019: The Bill sought to make amendments in the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The Bill sought to make crucial changes in the existing acts to put them in line with the Supreme Court order on the Aadhaar Act in September 2018, and ensure targeted delivery of subsidies and benefits to individuals residing in India by assigning them Aadhaar numbers. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 4 January 2019, during the previous Winter Session.

Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018: Passed in the Lok Sabha on 31 December, the Bill sought to set up the Medical Council of India (MCI) and determines the members that will constitute the new regulator of medical education and practice in the country. If the Bill was passed, a new body would be formed to replace the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018. The law had a provision to sets up the Medical Council of India (MCI) to regulate medical education and practice.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016: This important draft legislation sought to regulate the practice of surrogacy in India, in view of the massive rise in demand for the technology over the years. Given the fact that the technology has a human cost, with an intending couple commissioning a surrogate mother to carry their child during the gestation period, the government sought to regulate the practice. However, it is now set to lapse as it could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. Among other regulations. the Bill specifies eligibility conditions that need to be fulfilled by the intending couple in order to commission surrogacy. It permits surrogacy only for couples who cannot conceive a child. This procedure is not allowed in case of any other medical conditions which could prevent a woman from giving birth to a child. It also mandates that only Indian citizens can avail the facility in India.

What happens to Bills that have lapsed?

If a Bill is elapsed by virtue of one or more of the conditions explained above, it will have to be reintroduced in the new Lok Sabha (as is or with amendments) should the new government feel the need for it.

However, the lapse of a Bill in Parliament still does not prevent the incumbent government from issuing an Ordinance to bring forth the legislation it intended to through the lapsed Bill. According to the Constitution, the government of the day can bring in Ordinance if the Parliament is not in session and if the president is convinced of the urgency of the matter that it can't wait till the House comes in session again. Since the Constitution does not explicitly bans a government nearing the end of its term from doing so, the NDA government will be well within its legal rights to repromulgate the triple talaq ordinance or introduce a new one in lieu of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Since the lifespan of an ordinance in six months, or till the Parliament's next session (which in this case will be after the election of 17th Lok Sabha) any ordinance promulgated by the current government is likely to outlive its tenure.

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 12:02:34 IST

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