A Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a Minister in the Union Cabinet is called a Private Member. Bills introduced by such members are called Private Member’s Bills. A Private member’s bill can be introduced in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Bills introduced by ministers are called Government Bills. Generally, the 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm slot on alternate Fridays during sessions are reserved for discussion on Private Member’s Bills. There are no restrictions as to what a Private Member’s Bills should be about. The scope of a Private Member’s Bills is same as that of a Government Bill. These bills can deal with any issue and can also be a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
How are Private Member’s Bills introduced in Parliament?
A Private Members’ Bill is introduced in the Parliament by giving prior notice of one month along with a copy of the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ wherein the Private Member explains her/ his rationale for the introduction of the Bill. The final order of introduction is decided by a ballot system to ensure fairness. On the day allotted for such Bills, the Speaker/ Chairman of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha calls out to individual Members who then introduce their Bills. There is also a Parliamentary Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions which allots time to different Private Member’s Bills and goes through all of them (particularly those seeking to amend the Constitution). It also helps in classifying these Bills based on their nature, urgency, and importance. This classification, in turn, determines which of the introduced Bills are discussed first.
- Private Member’s Bills are drafted by MPs themselves or by their staff. These bills are, however, scrutinised and checked by the Parliament Secretariat for technicalities and legal consistency.
- The member has to provide a one-month notice along with a copy of the ‘Statement of Object and Reasons’. Through the statement, the member is required to elaborate on the bill.
- In case there are multiple Private Member’s Bills being proposed at the same time, a ballot system is used to determine the sequence of bills for introduction.
- There is also a Parliamentary Committee on Private Member’s Bills and Resolutions that goes through all PMBs. The committee classifies these Bills based on their urgency and importance, which in turn, determines which would be discussed first.
Importance of Private Member’s Bills
Private Member’s Bills were designed to empower MPs to bring attention to issues that were willingly or unwillingly ignored by the party at the helm. In the past, MPs have used Private Member’s Bills to put forward important issues. For instance, in 1957, Subhadra Joshi, a noted Indian freedom activist, politician and Parliamentarian, introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to extend financial support to women looking to fight cases of bigamy against their husbands. Mr. Tiruchi Siva’s PMB on the rights of transgender people is another great example. These Bills speak volumes of the significance of PMBs in a democracy. Various countries across the world effectively empower their Private Members and respect their initiative in the law-making process.