When a Bill has been passed by the Houses of Parliament, it shall be presented to the President, and the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom:

 

      Provided that the President may, as soon as possible after the presentation to him of a Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill to the Houses with a message requesting that they will reconsider the Bill or any specified provisions thereof and, in particular, will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message, and when a Bill is so returned, the Houses shall reconsider the Bill accordingly, and if the Bill is passed again by the Houses with or without amendment and presented to the President for assent, the President shall not withhold assent therefrom.

Debate Summary

Article 91, Draft Constitution, 1948

When a Bill has been passed by the Houses of Parliament, it shall be presented to the President, and the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom:

Provided that the President may, not later than six weeks after the presentation to him of a Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill to the Houses with a message requesting that they will reconsider the Bill or any specified provision thereof, and, in particular, will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message, and the Houses shall reconsider the Bill accordingly.

 

Draft Article 91 (Article 111, Constitution of India, 1950) was debated on 20th May 1949. It regulated the President’s assent to Bills.

 

A member moved an amendment that would make it mandatory for the President to assent to a Bill. He argued that the President should not have a right to dissent in legislative business as he/she had a titular role and was ‘analogous to the King in England’.

 

In the proviso, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee sought to replace ‘not later than six weeks’ to ‘as soon as possible’.  Another member argued for further amending this phrase to ‘as soon as may be’ in order to give the President more time to respond to the Bill.

 

After a Bill was sent back to the Parliament for reconsideration, what would happen if the President’s suggestions were not taken into account and the Parliament sent the Bill back to the President? A member moved an amendment to make it compulsory for the President to provide assent if it was sent by the Parliament for the second time. Another member proposed a very radical suggestion: if the President refused to provide assent, the House of the People would automatically dissolve and fresh elections were to be conducted. If the political party which was in power prior to the dissolution formed the government again, then the President would resign and the Bill would become an Act. In order to rectify this situation the Assembly decided to insert the following in the proviso: ‘and if the Bill is passed again by the House with or without amendment and presented to the President for assent, the President shall not withhold assent therefrom.’

 

The Assembly did not accept any other proposals and adopted the Draft Article on 20th May 1949.