Seminar in Hanoi on “Parliamentary Session: organisation and Procedure”

Dr. E. M. Sudarsana Natchiappan. Member of Parliament- India

On

Participation of individual MP’s in plenary sittings

In democracy the peoples representative is having high level of expectation of  active, lively and constructive participation in plenary sitting of Parliament in which real feeling, aspirations and expectations, pains , suffering and joy of the citizens are reflected in the topmost forum of the country. The people are anxious how the individual member’s presentation is responded by the ruling benches, Ministers and beuracrats and to know the acceptance of opposition benches. Hence work of  an individual member in plenary session is much more important to create an impact in the mind of the people which has great consequences in  ‘attracting the people’ while the Member participates in any other forum. In short it is the image building opportunity of individual through participation in Plenary sitting.

The Paliamentary procedure :

The normal procedure in the Parliament is having the following window of opportunity using well laid procedures :

1. Participation in Debate
2. Participation in question hour
3. Raising urgent matters of National importence in Zero hour.
4. Raising important matters through Special Mention.
5. To call the attention of concerned Minister.
6. To call the attention of the Chair.
7. Private Member Bill
8. Private Member resolution
9. Petition
10. Half an – hour discussion
11. Adjournment Motion
12. Short Duration Discussion
13. No confidence Motion
14.. Resolution for removal of speaker or Deputy Speaker.
15. Privileges motion
16. No- day- yet- Named Motions

1.Participation in the debate:

Participation in the debate  need some deep knowledge of the issues . The participation in a specific issues is decided by the Party whip . The time allotted to the participation for a party depends upon it’s strength in the House. Total hours for a specific debate is decided in the Business advisory committee under the chairmanship of the Speaker. The membership for the Business Advisory committee is on the basis of the strength of the Parties who are recognized as Opposition Party, Leaders of different  Parties,and  Leaders of the Group. Treasury bench will be represented by Parliamentary affairs Ministers and Chief whip of the ruling Party and other Members representing the Ruling Party. The deputy Speaker and panel of Chairmen will also be in the Business Advisory Committee. The meeting will  normally be held on Thursday of the week during sitting of house to fix agenda for the following week.

Hence the individual member is getting the opportunity to participate in the debate on the selection of his/ her Party. During the participation individual Member can comment, suggest, and add sufficient inputs which are noted by the officials from the Ministry and good and constructive inputs are aborbed into the system.The people and media are observing such debates and  high light the same according to their policy and principles.

Opposition Parties can give cut motions on money bill and propose amendment  to the provisions of Bill introduced by the Tresury bench.The Member has got right to demand division or vote on such issues. The majority rule prevail in such situations. The verbatim report of debate is preserved in the Parliament as official public document. The vedio clipping is also preserved as public document. The live telecast in official channels are used by other channels to high light the issues on the basis of debates and the participants thereof.

2.Question Hour:

Question hour is very interactive dynamic hour of participation for Members of the Parliament. The written starred questions and un- starred questions are two variety of questioning. Selected starred questions can be used by other members also to raise supplementary questions. This is the time to  show intelligence of Mmember to manifest their knowledge in the subject and expose inefficiency of a Minister and deficiency in the Executive.More over the elequence and timely coining of supplementary will pin down the government to the appreciation of the people.The written answer laid on the table will be further elaborated by the Minister in answering the supplementary questions. The member can also further seek explanation by writing letter to the Minister for clarification,

3.zero hour

This is an unique opportunity given to the Member to bring to the notice of the government and the Nation on an issue of National importance happened  or to be taken care of or remedied as urgent matter just on the same day or occurred before 10 AM of the day. This will be raised with the permission of the chair by submitting a gist to the Speaker. The Chair can find the importance and permit the Member  to speak for a particular time out of the allotted time. Eventhough the Minister need not reply or assure, but take notice of it .If the Minister wants to express  his observation on that matter , it will also be permitted by the Chair ,to respond to matter raised by the Member.

4. Special Mention:

This is the opportunity for bringing  the urgent issues by written format and read the same. The Member who is not having capacity to  debate without reading the prepared speech can use this Special Mention  to communicate in the Parliament. The issue raised as Special mention by the Member  is to be replied in writing within 30 days ,by the concerned Minister. hence the active Member will use this specialMention as a tool in everyweek covring his constituency issues  to the satisfaction of stake holders.

5. Calling attention motion:

This motion is very much focused and shows the urgency to attend to the issue and take immediate steps to rectify or remedy or act  by the concerned Minister .urgency and public importance are the main tests of admissibility oa calling attention motion. A calling attention notice usually renders a notice of an adjournment motion infructuous and unnecessary . Before declining the admissibility of a notice,the Seaker may call for facts of the  and comments from the Minister concerned, because a notice  is inadmissible if it lacks basis.

6.Call the attention of the Chair:

A vigilant member of the house can call the attention of the Chair on violation of rules by a Member or Minster ‘point of order ‘. Similarly a Member can attract the attention to intervene if the issue is so relevant or the member making his debates concedes to allow such intervention.

7.Private Member Bill

The Indian Parliament permits only the government to introduce the bill and make iras Act of the Parlament. It is not allowing the privates members to have the bill as a matter of his right. But the Private Members Bill isan exception to it. Any Member can bring a Private Member Bill whether it is a finance Bill or bill to amend the existing Act or a new bill on a specific issue of National interest and within the legislative power of the Parliament.It will go through the procedures and lot , priority and finally listed on a Private Member bill  day normally Friday afternoon for 2 hrs. It will be debated and voted fro introduction and  passing. Usually the Minister will reply and request the Member to withdraw enabling the Minister to act as the government decides on such issue. If the Member has not accept the request of the Minister the bill will be voted according to the proceedure for regular bill or constitutional amendment bill .If voted and passed in one house  then it will go to the next house and debated and follow the similar proceedure for passing the bill. It is rarest of all to see such things to happen. but the regular debate on the bill itself is a good input gor the government.

8. Private Member resolution:

On any issue of National interest and legislative power of the Parliament a Member can bring resolution similar to the proceedure for Private MemberBill and bring the issue for debate ,passing or conceding to withdraw after debate and reply by the Minister. The resolution may be in the form of a declaration of opinion or a recommendation ; or it may be in the form so as to record either approval or disapproval by the House of an act or policy of Government or convey a message ; or command , urge or request an action ; or call attention to a matter or situation for consideration by Government; or in such other form as the Speaker may consider  appropriate .

9.Petition :

Any Member of the Parliament can counter sighn any petition of citizen on the issues for remedy which can not be dealt with any court, executive or under any law rule or regulation in force. Such petition will be considered by th Speaker and if it is fit for discussion it will be referred to the Parliamen committee on Petition with the consent of the house.

10.Half an hour discussion:

When the question hour is taking up the issue , many members may like o raise supplementary but  due to shortage of time ,next question will be taken up by the Chair. Then the members one proposed and seconder can submit a form to fix an half an hour discussion. The chair and Business AdvisoryCommittee may fix the date for such discussion if it is of such importance.

11. Adjournment Motion:

Any Member ( normally opposition Party member), can  submit a motion for adjournment of the listed business and take up his  motion for discussion since it is of such urgency and National importence .It is the discretion of the Speaker to evaluate justification and decide for such motion.Generally speaking , the subject matter of an adjournment motion must have direct or indirect relation to the conduct or default on the part of the Goverment and must be in the nature of criticism of the action of the  Government either for having done some action  or for having omitted to do some action which was urgently necessary at the moment. An adjournment motion is not admissible unless there was failure on the part of the government to perform the duties enjoined by the constitution and the law.

12. Short Duration Discussion:

Any Member can formulate an issue for discussion which is on matters of urgent public importance at the National level and submit to Speaker to treat it for Short duration Disscussion.The notice is required to be accompanied by an explanatory note stating reasons for raising discussion on the matter in question, and has to be supported by signatures of at least two other members. If the speaker admits the discussion will be listed and discussed within 2 hours limit. The concerned Minister is to be present and reply in the discussion.

13. No confidence Motion:

Any member ( normally opposition Party), can move a no confidence motion against the government on specific ground and to be justified in writing to the speaker. If the speaker allows it will be taken up in the house and leave to move the Motion should be supported not less than 50 Members standing voicing their support. Then it will be discussed and put to vote for majority of acceptance in favour of the motion. If majority support is not there it will be rejected.

In view of the express constitutional provision regarding collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Peoples House, a motion expressing want of confidence in an individual Minister is out of order; under The Rules, only a motion expressing want of confidence in the council of Ministers as a body  is admissible. A no- confidence motion in the Council of Ministers is distinct from a censure motion. Whereas a censure motion must set out the grounds or charge on which it is based and is moved for the specific purpose of censuring the Government for certain policies and actions, a motion of no- confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based.

14.Resolution for removal of speaker or Deputy Speaker.

Similar to the no confidence motion the resolution for removal of Speaker or Deputy speaker can be submitted by a Member and same procedure of support for mover by 50 members and final resolution by majority can be passed for removal of such person from office.

15. Privileges motion :

The Members of Parliament have certain privileges guaranteed in the Constituion and rule of the house. If a Member feels that his privileges or privilege of the house is violated by any body this has to be justified by a written motion. it will be considered by the Speakerand if he is satisfied the moverhast get the support of  minimum 25 members to move the privilege motion . it will be discussed and revered to Privilege committee  following the procedure.

16. No- day- yet- Named Motions :

Any member can move a motion for discussion by giving reasonsin writing . The speaker will decide on that. If the speaker feels that issue is of National importance  then it will treated as ‘no- day- yet – Named Motion’ and publish it in Bullitin. It will be listed in list of Business when the Business Advisory committee considers for such listing.

Conclusion :

The individual Member of the Parliament is getting inputs from the people, media , executive and other stake holders in each and every issue. Being Member of the Parliament one has rights and privileges to bring these issues to the notice of the Government for the benefit of the people.The Parliament plenary session is the best forum for such dynamic and vibrant mechanism  for full presentation of the grievencences of the People. Parliament gets informed through various procedural devices which constitute potent instruments for parliamentary surveillance over administrative action. The question procedure is one of the most widely used one. During question hour in Parliament, a piercing searchlight is thrown in every nook and corner of the vast length and breadth of administration and nothing  falls outside the scrutiny of Parliament. The debates in every aspect allows the Member to be the part of Nation building by constructive thinking and action using procedure to achieve that objective for the People.

About Dr. E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan MA ML( USA) Ph D

Dr. E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, was a Member of Parliment - Lok Sabha one term and two terms Rajya Sabha and Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industy, New Delhi Sr.Lawyer ,Supreme court of India, NewDelhi, India. President, Indian society of International Law, New Delhi Founder of 21st century International School, Sivagangai Tamil Nadu. Author of books WTO and India, RTI and others
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