Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings

The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the members ask questions and the ministers usually give answers. The questions are of three kinds, namely, starred, unstarred and short notice.

1. A starred question (distinguished by an asterisk) requires an oral answer and hence supplementary questions can follow.

2. An unstarred question, on the other hand, requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.

3. A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally.

A brief description of various types of motions has been given below:

1. Closure Motion: It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the House. If the motion is approved by the House, debate is stopped forthwith and the matter is put to vote. There are four kinds of closure motions :

(a) Simple Closure: It is one when a member moves that the ‘matter having been sufficiently discussed be now put to vote’.

(b) Closure by Compartments: In this case, the clauses of a bill or a lengthy resolution are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate. The debate covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.

(c) Kangaroo Closure: Under this type, only important clauses are taken up for debate and voting and the intervening clauses are skipped over and taken as passed.

(d) Guillotine Closure: It is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolution are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to want of time (as the time allotted for the discussion is over).

2. No-Confidence Motion: Article 75 of the Constitution says that the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It means that the ministry stays in office so long as it enjoys confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha. In other words, the Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a no-confidence motion. The motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.

3. Privilege Motion: It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister. It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.

4. Motion of Thanks :The first session after each general election and the first session of every fiscal year is addressed by the president. In this address, the president outlines the policies and programmes of the government in the preceding year and ensuing year. This address of the president, which corresponds to the ‘speech from the Throne in Britain’, is discussed in both the Houses of Parliament on a motion called the ‘Motion of Thanks’. At the end of the discussion, the motion is put to vote. This motion must be passed in the House. Otherwise, it amounts to the defeat of the government. This inaugural speech of the president is an occasion available to the members of Parliament to raise discussions and debates to ex-amine and criticise the government and administration for its lapses and failures.

5. Calling Attention Motion: It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter. Like the zero hour, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

6. No-Day-Yet-Named Motion :It is a motion that has been admitted by the Speaker but no date has been fixed for its discussion. The Speaker, after considering the state of business in the House and in consultation with the leader of the House or on the recommendation of the Business Advisory Committee, allots a day or days or part of a day for the discussion of such a motion.

7. Censure Motion: It should state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha. It can be moved against an individual minister or a group of ministers or the entire council of ministers. It is moved for censuring the council of ministers for specific policies and actions. If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers need not resign from the office.

8. Half-an-Hour Discussion :It is meant for discussing a matter of sufficient public importance, which has been subjected to a lot of debate and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact. The Speaker can allot three days in a week for such discussions. There is no formal motion or voting before the House.

9. Short Duration Discussion: It is also known as two-hour discussion as the time allotted for such a discussion should not exceed two hours. The members of the Parliament can raise such discussions on a matter of urgent public importance. The Speaker can allot two days in a week for such discussions. There is neither a formal motion before the house nor voting. This device has been in existence since 1953.

10. Point of Order: A Member can raise a point of order when the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal rules of procedure. A point of order should relate to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of the House or such articles of the Constitution that regulate the business of the House and should raise a question that is within the cognizance of the Speaker. It is usually raised by an opposition member in order to control the government. It is an extraordinary device as it suspends the proceedings before the House. No debate is allowed on a point of order.

11. Special Mention: A matter which is not a point of order or which cannot be raised during question hour, half-an hour discussion, short duration discussion or under adjournment motion, calling attention notice or under any rule of the House can be raised under the special mention in the Rajya Sabha. Its equivalent procedural device in the Lok Sabha is known as ‘Notice (Mention) Under Rule 377’.

12. Adjournment Motion: When there is an urgent matter of public importance then a member may propose that the business of the house be adjourned for discussing that matter. This motion can be moved only with the consent of the Speaker. Generally such motions are discussed in the afternoon at 4.00 p.m.

13. Lame-duck Session: It refers to the last session of the existing Lok Sabha, after a new Lok Sabha has been elected. Those members of the existing Lok Sabha who could not get re-elected to the new Lok Sabha are called lame-ducks.

MOTIONS IN REGARD TO THE BUDGET

The most popular and well known motions which are used by members in connection with the budget are three. The demand for grants are considered and passed by Lok Sabha. Hence, these motions can be moved only in Lok Sabha.

1. Policy Cut: The member moves that the demand be reduced to one rupee. The member moving this motion in fact wants to discuss the policy behind the demand in detail and gives alternative policy suggestions.
2. Economy Cut: In this motion the reduction in the amount of demand is substantial. The amount to be reduced is clearly stated and the object is to bring about economy in the expenditure.
3. Token Cut: In this motion the demand is sought to be reduced by Rs. 100/-. The object of the motion is to ventilate a specific grievances within the sphere of responsibility of the Government. Private Member’s Resolution A resolution may be moved by a Minister or by a private member. For private members generally afternoons are reserved on alternate Fridays. Resolutions are selected by ballot. Resolutions may be brought under Rule 200 of the Lok Sabha for the removal of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.

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