Procedure in the House
The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and Directions issued by the Speaker from time to time there under regulate the procedure in Lok Sabha. The items of business, notice of which is received from the Ministers/ Private Members and admitted by the Speaker, are included in the daily List of Business which is printed and circulated to members in advance. For various items of business to be taken up in the House the time is allotted by the House on the recommendations of the Business Advisory Committee. The Speaker presides over the sessions of the House and regulates procedure.
Sessions and Time of Sittings
Three sessions of Lok Sabha take place in a year:
- Budget session: February to May.
- Monsoon session: July to September.
- Winter session: November to mid December.
When in session, Lok Sabha holds its sittings usually from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. and from 2 P.M. to 6 P.M. On some days the sittings are continuously held without observing lunch break and are also extended beyond 6 P.M. depending upon the business before the House. Lok Sabha does not ordinarily sit on Saturdays and Sundays and other closed holidays.
The first hour of every sitting is called Question Hour. Asking questions in Parliament is the free and unfettered right of members, and during Question Hour they may ask questions of ministers on different aspects of administration and government policy in the national and international spheres. Every minister whose turn it is to answer to questions has to stand up and answer for his department’s acts of omission or commission.
Questions are of three types – Starred, Unstarred and Short Notice. A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer in the House and which is distinguished by an asterisk mark. An unstarred Question is one which is not called for oral answer in the house and on which no supplementary questions can consequently be asked. An answer to such a question is given in writing. Minimum period of notice for starred/ unstarred question is 10 clear days.If the questions given notice of are admitted by the Speaker, they are listed and printed for answer on the dates allotted to the Ministries to which the subject matter of the question pertains.
The normal period of notice does not apply to short notice questions which relate to matters of urgent public importance. However, a Short Notice Question may be answered only on short notice if so permitted by the Speaker and the Minister concerned is prepared to answer it at shorter notice. A short notice question is taken up for answer immediately after the Question Hour, popularly known as Zero Hour.
Zero Hour: The time immediately following the Question Hour has come to be known as “Zero Hour”. It starts at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time. Typically, discussions on important Bills, the Budget, and other issues of national importance take place from 2pm onwards.
Business after Question Hour
After the Question Hour, the House takes up miscellaneous items of work before proceeding to the main business of the day. These may consist of one or more of the following:- Adjournment Motions, Questions involving breaches of Privileges, Papers to be laid on the Table, Communication of any messages from Rajya Sabha, Intimations regarding President’s assent to Bills, Calling Attention Notices, Matters under Rule 377, Presentation of Reports of Parliamentary Committee, Presentation of Petitions, – miscellaneous statements by Ministers, Motions regarding elections to Committees, Bills to be withdrawn or introduced.
The main business of the day may be consideration of a Bill or financial business or consideration of a resolution or a motion.
Legislative proposals in the form of a Bill can be brought forward either by a Minister or by a private member. In the former case it is known as Government Bill and in the latter case it is known as a Private Members’ Bill. Every Bill passes through three stages – called three readings – before it is passed. To become law it must be passed by both the Houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and then assented to by the president.
The presentation, discussion of, and voting on the annual General and Railways budgets—followed by the passing of the Appropriations Bill and the Finance Bill—is a long, drawn-out process that takes up a major part of the time of the House during its Budget Session every year.
Motions and Resolutions
Among other kinds of business that come up before the House are resolutions and motions. Resolutions and motions may be brought forward by Government or by private members. Government may move a resolution or a motion for obtaining the sanction to a scheme or opinion of the House on an important matter of policy or on a grave situation. Similarly, a private member may move a resolution or motion in order to draw the attention of the House and of the Government to a particular problem. The last two and half hours of sitting on every Friday are generally allotted for transaction of private members’ business. While private members’ bills are taken up on one Friday, private members’ resolutions are taken up on the succeeding Friday, and so on.
A Half-an-Hour Discussion can be raised on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent question in Lok Sabha irrespective of the fact whether the question was answered orally or the answer was laid on the Table of the House and the answer which needs elucidation on a matter of fact. Normally not more than half an hour is allowed for such a discussion. Usually, half-an-hour discussion is listed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only, In one session, a member is allowed to raise not more than two half-an-hour discussions. During the discussion, the member who has given notice makes a short statement and not more than four members who have intimated earlier and have secured one of the four places in the ballot are permitted to ask a question each for further elucidating any matter of fact. Thereafter, the Minister concerned replies. There is no formal motion before the House nor voting.
Discussion on Matters of Urgent Public Importance
Members may raise discussions on matters of urgent public importance with the permission of the Speaker. Such discussions may take place on two days in a week. No formal motion is moved in the House nor is there any voting on such a discussion.
Debate in the House
After the member who initiates discussion on an item of business has spoken, other members can speak on that item of business in such order as the Speaker may call upon them. Only one member can speak at a time and all speeches are directed to the Chair. A matter requiring the decision of the House is decided by means of a question put by the Speaker on a motion made by a member.
A division is one of the forms in which the decision of the House is ascertained. Normally, when a motion is put to the House members for and against it indicate their opinion by saying “Aye” or “No” from their seats. The Chair goes by the voices and declares that the motion is either accepted or rejected by the House. If a member challenges the decision, the Chair orders that the lobbies be cleared. Then the division bell is rung and an entire network of bells installed in the various parts and rooms in Parliament House and Parliament House Annexe rings continuously for three and a half minutes. Members and Ministers rush to the Chamber from all sides. After the bell stops, all the doors to the Chamber are closed and nobody can enter or leave the Chamber till the division is over. Then the Chair puts the question for second time and declares whether in its opinion the “Ayes” or the “Noes”, have it. If the opinion so declared is again challenged, the Chair asks the votes to be recorded by operating the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment.
Automatic Vote Recording System
With the announcement of the Speaker for recording the votes, the Secretary- General presses the button of a key board. Then a gong sounds serving as a signal to members for casting their votes. For casting a vote each member present in the Chamber has to press a switch and then operate one of the three push buttons fixed in his seat. The push switch must be kept pressed simultaneously until the gong sounds for the second time after 10 seconds. There are two Indicator Boards installed in the wall on either side of the Speaker’s Chair in the Chamber. Each vote cast by a member is flashed here. Immediately after the votes are cast, they are totaled mechanically and the details of the results are flashed on the Result Indicator Boards installed in the railings of the Speaker’s and Diplomatic Galleries. Divisions are normally held with the aid of the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment. Where so directed by the Speaker in terms of relevant provision in the Rules of Procedure etc. in Lok Sabha, Divisions may be held either by distribution of ‘Aye’/’No’ and ‘Abstention’ slips to members in the House or by the members recording their votes by going into the lobbies. There is an Indicator Board in the machine room showing the name of each member. The result of Division and vote cast by each member with the aid of Automatic Vote Recording Equipment appear on this Board also. Immediately a photograph of the Indicator Board is taken. Later the Photograph is enlarged and the names of members who voted ‘Ayes’ and for ‘Noes’ are determined with the help of the photograph and incorporated in Lok Sabha Debates.
Publication of Debates
Three versions of Lok Sabha Debates are prepared viz., the Hindi version, the English version and the Original version. Only the Hindi and English versions are printed. The Original version, in cyclostyled form, is kept in the Parliament Library for record and reference. The Hindi version all Questions asked and Answers given thereto in Hindi and the speeches made in Hindi as also verbatim Hindi translation of Questions and Answers and of speeches made in English or in regional languages.The English version contains Lok Sabha proceedings in English and the English translation of the proceedings which take place in Hindi or in any regional language.The Original version, however, contains proceedings in Hindi or in English as they actually take place in the House and also the English/Hindi translation of speeches made in regional languages.
If conflicting legislation is enacted by the two Houses, a joint sitting is held to resolve the differences. In such a session, the members of the Lok Sabha would generally prevail, since the Lok Sabha includes more than twice as many members as the Rajya Sabha.
Q.1 The Speaker’s vote in the lok Sabha is called?-(SSC 2008)
(A) Casting vote (B) Sound vote
(C) Direct vote (D) Indirect vote
Q.2 The chairperson of the Lok Sabha is designated as ? (SBI 2008)
(A) Chairman (B) Speaker
(C) Vice-President (D) President (E) None of these
Q.3 Who among the following was not elected for two terms as the speaker of lok sabha?
(A) G.M.C Balayogi (B) N. Sanjiva Reddy
(C) Balram Jakhar (D) Baliram Bhagat
Q.4 The first speaker against whom a motion of no-confidence was moved in the lok sabha was? (UP PCS 2004)
(A) Balram jakhar (B) G. V. Malavankar
(C) Hukum singh (D) K.S. Hegde
Q.5 Who decides whether a bill is a money bill or not?-(UP PCS 2007)
(A) The president (B) The Speaker
(C) The Finance Secretary (D) The Finance Minister
Q.6 Who among the following was never the lok sabha speaker? (UPSC 2004)
(A) K.V.K. Sundram (B) G.S Dhillon
(C) Baliram Bhagat (D) Hukum Singh
Q.7 What can be maximum interval between two- sessions of parliament? (SSC 2000)
(A) 3 Months (B) 4 Months
(C) 6 Months (D) 9 Months
Q.8 Bill of which of following categories can be initiated only in lok sabha?(NDA 2003)
(A) Ordinary bill (B) Private members bill
(C) Money bill (D) Constitution amendment bill
Q.9 Who decides whether a bill is a money bill or not? (NDA 2009)
(A) Speaker of Lok Sabha (B) The President
(C) Prime Minister (D) The parliament select committee
Q.10 By which bill the government propose collection of revenues for a year? (SSC 2007)
(A) Economic bill (B) Finance bill
(C) Supplementary bill (D) None of these