Sessions of Parliament and Parliamentary Proceedings

Sessions of Parliament and Parliamentary Proceedings

This article deals with ‘Parliament – Sessions of Parliament and Parliamentary Proceedings .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Sessions of Parliament

  • By convention, Parliament meets for three sessions in a year:
    1. Budget session which is held towards the beginning of the year,
    2. Three-week Monsoon session (July-August)
    3. Winter session (November-December).
  • Constitutional Provision : Article 85  only requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two parliamentary sessions. The same applies to state legislatures.

Terms related to Sessions of Parliament

1 . Summoning

  • President summon both the Houses from time to time
  • But there can’t be more than 6 months between two meetings

Side Note – Only President can summon Houses on recommendation of Prime Minister. In order to increase the Parliamentary Control over Executive, there is  need to Amend Constitution to empower President to convene a session of Parliament on a request of a specified number of MPs. UK & USA too has such provisions

2. Adjournment

  • There are two sittings in a day
Morning 11-1
Post Lunch 2-6
  • Adjournment suspends the sitting for specific time which may be hours  or days or weeks
  • Done by Presiding Officer of the House

3. Adjournment Sine die

  • Termination of sittings of Parliament for indefinite time
  • Done by Presiding Officer of the House

4. Prorogation

  • Within few days after Sine Die ,President issues notification for Prorogation of the session and it terminates the session
  • President can Prorogue the house while in session

5. Dissolution

  • Rajya Sabha is Permanent House only Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution
  • Dissolution ends the very life of existing house & new house is to be constituted after general elections.
  • Can happen in two cases
    • Automatic dissolution on expiry of its tenure after 5 years
    • When President decides to dissolves the House

Position of bills wrt Dissolution of Lok Sabha

Lapse Bill pending in Lok Sabha  (introduced in Lok Sabha and pending there or introduced in Rajya Sabha & passed by it and pending in Lok Sabha)
Bill passed  by Lok Sabha but pending in Rajya Sabha (Only these two. All other bills don’t Lapse)
Doesn’t lapse   Bill doesn’t passed by both houses due to disagreement and notified by President for Joint sitting
Bill pending in Rajya Sabha but not passed by Lok Sabha
Passed by both Houses but doesn’t received assent of President
Bill passed by both houses but returned by President for reconsideration

6. Quorum

  • Minimum number of members required for transacting any business in house
  • 1/10 of total strength
Lok Sabha 55
Rajya Sabha 25

7. Voting in House

  • All matters in both the houses decided by Simple Majority
  • Only special matters specifically mentioned in the Constitution decided by using Special Majority or Absolute Majority

8. Language in Parliament

  • Hindi & English is language of House
  • Member can address in his mother tongue taking permission of Presiding Officer
  • In both Houses , there is arrangement for simultaneous translation

9. Rights of ministers & Attorney general

  • All  Ministers and Attorney General of India has right to speak & take part in proceedings of either House & Joint Sittings
  • And also in any committee of Parliament of which he is not a member but without right to vote in both cases

10 . Lame duck session

  • Last session of existing Lok Sabha after new house is elected
  • Members of Lok Sabha which don’t get elected to next house are called Lame Ducks

Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings

Question Hour (11-12)

  • First hour of  sitting is for this
  • Members ask questions and Ministers answers them usually

Three types of questions

Starred Questions – Requires oral answer
– Supplementary questions can follow
Unstarred Questions – Requires written answer
– Supplementary questions cant follow
– In Star & Unstarred , notice has to be given 15 days in advance
Short Notice Question – Asked by giving a short notice less than 10 days
– Required to be answered orally

Zero Hour (12-1)

  • Not mentioned in rule of books, an Indian invention ,in practice since 1962
  • Time between Question hour & the agenda of day
  • Members can raise matters in it without prior notice


  • No discussion in Parliament can take place without Motion with consent of Presiding officer of house

Fall into three categories

Substantive Motion Deals with most important matters like Impeachment of President
Substitute Motion Moved in substitution of an original motion & seeks alternate to it
It supersedes original motion
Subsidiary Motion – In itself has no meaning and is made in reference to original motion.  

– Three subcategories
1. Ancillary motion : Regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business
2. Superseding motion : Moved in course of debate on other issue and seeks to supersede that issue 
3. Amendment : It modifies or substitute part of original motion

Closure Motion

  • Moved by member to cut short debate on matter

It is of four kinds

Simple Closure When matter is sufficiently discussed
Closure by Compartment – When Bill is lengthy it is divided into parts
– Debate covers part as whole & put to vote
Kangaroo closure Only some clauses taken for debate & voting & other clauses are skipped and deemed to be passed
Guillotine closure When undiscussed clauses are put to vote  along with discussed ones due to warrant of time

Privilege Motion

  • Concerned with breach of Parliamentary privileges by Minister
  • Purpose is to censure the concerned Minister

Calling Attention Motion

  • Indian innovation but mentioned in Rules of Procedure & in existence since 1954
  • Introduced by Member to call attention of Minister to matter of urgent importance & seek authoritative statement from him
  • Doesn’t involve any discussion / voting
  • Minister may make a brief statement about the matter or he may ask for time to make a statement later

Adjournment Motion

  • Draw attention of House to urgent matter of public concern & need support of 50 members. It is extraordinary device as interrupts ordinary business
  • Censure against government & hence cant be introduced in Rajya Sabha
  • Discussion should be atleast 2.5 hours

No-Confidence Motion

  • Article 75: Ministers are Collectively Responsible to Parliament
  • Lok Sabha can remove Ministry by passing it & need support of 50 to introduce
  • Needn’t state reason for its introduction & council of ministers must resign after this
  • Only one such motion can be moved in 6 months
  • The matter is taken up for discussion within 10 days of notice .
  • Rajya Sabha has no role to play in No Confidence Motion

Censure Motion

  • Can be moved only in the Lok Sabha & by the opposition of the House
  • Can be moved against particular Minister or Council of Ministers and reason need to be mentioned
  • Moved for Censuring specific policies of government. But if the Censure Motion is passed , Council of Minister is bound to seek confidence of Lok Sabha as early as possible
  • Minister needn’t resign    after this
  • Signed notice must be given by atleast 50 members .

Motion of Thanks

Motion which follows the President address to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha after General Election and first session of each Financial year

  • Equivalent to SPEECH FROM THRONE in Britain
  • Then put to vote & must be passed.
  • If lapses in Lok Sabha , considered defeat of government

No day yet named motion

  • Motion admitted to Speaker but date to discuss it not yet fixed
  • Speaker fix that after discussion with Leader of House

Point of Order

  • Member can move it when proceedings of House don’t follow normal rules
  • Extra ordinary device as suspend proceedings & raised by opposition member mostly

Half an hour Discussion

  • Speaker can allot three days a week for this
  • Meant for discussing matter of public importance which has gone through enough discussion but answer to which needs elucidation on matter of fact

Short duration Discussion

  • Also called two hour discussion
  • Members can raise discussions on matter of public importance in this

Special Mention

  • Matter which cant be raised in any motion. Can be raised in Rajya Sabha by special mention motion
  • Lok Sabha equivalent of this is NOTICE


  • To draw attention of house on matter of public importance
  • All Resolutions come under category of substantive motion ( only important matters)
  • Discussion on this must be strictly relevant to & in scope of resolution

Issue : Low number of Parliamentary Sittings 

Data to support this

  • Parliament sittings have reduced from
    • 140 days/year at time of Independence
    • 65 days/year presently
  • State Legislatures=  29 days a year on average.
  • Dec 2018 : Winter Session  of Punjab LA was of just 3 days . 

Need of adequate number of Parliamentary sittings

  • Good quality of legislations after proper discussion :  Due to lesser number of sittings , laws are not properly discussed which create problems later
  • Increase Executive Accountability to Legislature    

Consequences of low number of sittings

  1. Compromised legislative business – It results in hasty passage of bills, frequent resort to Ordinances and budgets without due debate. Eg : Over the years, the time spent on discussing the Budget has reduced from an average of 125 hours in the 1950s to 40 hours in the last decade.
  2. Undermines legitimacy of Parliament
  3. Compromised Accountability of Executive to Legislature
  4. Lack of avenues available to MPs to express dissent culminating in MPs disrupting proceedings of Parliament.
  5. Undermining Separation of Power
  6. Large scale promulgation of Ordinances.

Ways to address this

  • Dilute the power of the government to be the sole decider of session dates.  There is urgent need to Amend Constitution to empower President to convene a session of Parliament on a request of a specified number of MPs
  • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) has recommended the minimum number of sittings for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be fixed at 120 and 100 respectively. 
  • Odisha has already shown the way, mandating minimum 60 days for the State Assembly.
  • System of Annual Calendar of sittings based on deliberation by all parties as is prevalent in UK.

Issue : Large number of Disruptions


  1. Winner takes all approach of Ruling Parties : Parliamentary System works on Consensus building and Give & Take
  2. Low number of Sittings : MPs don’t get time to raise concerns of their constituency
  3. Opening up of Parliament to live telecasts has increased the incentives for groups of MPs disrupt Parliament for particular issue  , knowing well that it will be widely covered
  4. Stand of Political Parties : In previous Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said on record that Parliamentary Disruptions are also legitimate way of showing displeasure with Government’s policies.

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