Meaning and Scope
The primary object of an adjournment motion is to draw the attention of the House to a recent matter of urgent public importance having serious consequences and in regard to which a motion or a resolution with proper notice will be too late.
The matter proposed to be raised should be of such a character that something very grave which affects the whole country and its security has happened and the House is required to pay its attention immediately by interrupting the normal business of the House.
The adjournment motion is thus an extraordinary procedure which, if admitted, leads to setting aside the normal business of the House for discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.
The subject matter of the motion must have a direct or indirect relation to the conduct or default on the part of the Union Government and must precisely pin-point the failure of the Government of India in the performance of its duties in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Law.
A matter which falls within the jurisdiction of a State Government is inadmissible, but a matter concerning the constitutional developments in a State or atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections of the society which bring the Union Government into picture may be considered for admission on merits. The refusal to give his consent is in the absolute discretion of the Chair and he is not bound to give any reasons therefore.
The notice of an adjournment motion is required to be given on the prescribed form, copies of which are available in the Parliamentary Notice Office. It should be addressed to the Secretary-General and copies thereof endorsed to the Speaker, the Minister concerned and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. All the copies of the notice should be given in Parliamentary Notice Office.
A member can give not more than one notice for any one sitting. If a notice is signed by more than one member, it is deemed to have been given by the first signatory only.
A ballot is held to determine the relative priority of all notices received on the same subject for the sitting for which they are valid.
Time for giving Notice
Before the commencement of a session notices of adjournment motion can at the earliest be given on and after the date notified for the purpose. This is normally three working days before the commencement of the session.
Notices received prior to that date are not considered valid and are returned to the members. Telegraphic notice is not valid.
During the session period, notice of an adjournment motion should be given by 10.00 hours on the day on which the motion is proposed to be made. Notices received after 10.00 hours are treated as notices given for the next sitting.
As a convention, adjournment motions are not taken up on the day of the President’s Address. Notices received for that day are treated as notices for the next sitting.
A censure motion is different from a no-confidence motion.
Depending on the constitution of the body concerned, “No Confidence” may lead to compulsory resignation of the council of ministers or other position-holder(s), whereas “Censure” is meant to show disapproval and does not result in the resignation of ministers. The censure motion can be against an individual minister or a group of ministers, but the no-confidence motion is directed against the entire cabinet.
Again, depending on the applicable rules, censure motions may need to state the reasons for the motion while no-confidence motions may not require reasons to be specified.
Motion of Thanks
Under rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, discussion on matters referred to in the President’s Address takes place on a Motion of Thanks moved by a member and seconded by another member. The form of the Motion is:—
“That the Members of Lok Sabha assembled in this session are deeply grateful to the President for the Address which he has been pleased to deliver to both the Houses of Parliament assembled together on [ ] date.”
On the days allotted for the discussion, the House is at liberty to discuss matters referred to in the Address. The scope of discussion on the Address is very wide and the members are free to speak on all sorts of national or international problems. Even matters which are not specifically mentioned in the Address are brought into discussion through amendments to Motion of Thanks.
The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.
Amendments to Motion of Thanks on President’s Address
Notices of amendments to Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address.
Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention.
Amendments can be moved to the Motion of Thanks in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Speaker.
If the Speaker admits notice of a motion and no date is fixed for its discussion it is called a No-Day-Yet-Named Motion and a copy of the admitted motion is forwarded to the Minister concerned with the subject matter of the motion.
Admitted notices of such motions may be placed before the Business Advisory Committee for selecting the motions for discussion in the House according to the urgency and importance of the subject-matter thereof, and allotting for the same
Points of Order
One of the most vexatious parliamentary practices which confronts a Presiding Officer is a point of order raised during the debate.
The practice raises real problems for the Chair and causes exasperation amongst members who are prepared to abide by the rules and do not raise matters of argument or debate under the cloak of point of order. The problem for the Chair lies in the fact that, until he hears at least a substantial part of a member’s submission, he (the Chair) is not in a position to rule that it is not a point of order.
The Chair may of course, rebuke a member who blatantly and frequently raises a ‘bogus’ or unwarranted point of order. But at the same time, the Chair cannot, in general, refuse to hear points of order.
However, there are some situations in which the Chair may refuse to entertain the points straightaway so that at least in those situations the members who raise points of order do not have things all their own way and the time of the House is not wasted in making or hearing submissions on points which are clearly not points of order.
A point of order should, relate to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha or conventions or such articles of the Constitution as to regulate the business of the House and must raise a question which is within the cognizance of the Chair. The test whether a point raised is a point of order or not is not whether the Chair can give any relief but whether it involves such interpretation or enforcement of the rules, etc. and whether it raises a point which the Chair alone can decide.
The Chairman shall allot half-an-hour from 5 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. on any day for raising discussion on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent question in the Council, and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact:
- Provided that if the other business set down for the day is concluded before 5 p.m. the period of half-an-hour shall commence from the time such other business is concluded.
- Provided further that the Chairman may vary the time of commencement of such discussion if such a course is, in his opinion, necessary or convenient.
A member wishing to raise a matter shall give notice in writing to the Secretary-General three days in advance of the day on which the matter is desired to be raised, and shall shortly specify the point or points that he wishes to raise:
- Provided that the notice shall be accompanied by an explanatory note stating the reasons for raising discussion on the matter in question.
- Provided further that the notice shall be supported by the signatures of at least two other members.
- Provided further that the Chairman may with the consent of the Minister concerned waive the requirement concerning the period of notice.
The Chairman shall decide whether the matter is of sufficient public importance to be put down for discussion.
Short Duration Discussions
One of the important parliamentary devices available to members to draw the attention of the Government to matters of urgent public importance is to raise short duration discussions on such matters.
Prior to 1953, there was no provision in the Rules for raising a discussion in the House on a matter of urgent public importance except by way of a resolution or a motion.
Whenever members wanted to draw the attention of the Government to a matter of urgent public importance, they resorted to adjournment motions. As an adjournment motion is in the nature of a censure motion, recourse to such a procedure was not considered appropriate in the new set-up, when the Government became responsible to Parliament.
With a view to providing opportunities to members to discuss matters of urgent public importance, a convention was established in March, 1953 whereby members could raise discussions for short duration without a formal motion or vote thereon. The procedure has now come to form part of the Rules.
Special Mention is yet another device through which a member can raise an issue of public importance in the House.
Till 1 July 2000, there was no specific provision in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha in regard to the mentioning of matters of public importance in the House by members.
During the early two decades of Rajya Sabha, it was the practice that ordinarily a member wishing to bring to the notice of the House and the Government a matter of public importance, could approach the Chairman in his Chamber before the commencement of the sitting of the House and seek his prior permission to mention that matter.
The member concerned was then called to refer to that matter after the Question Hour. Agreeing with the views of the General Purposes Committee, the Committee on Rules in its Eighth Report proposed new Rules 180A to 180E for regulating the procedure for making Special Mentions in the House.
The Report of the Committee was adopted by the House on 15 May 2000 and the new Rules came into force with effect from 1 July 2000. Accordingly, from the 190th Session, matters of public importance under the procedure of Special Mentions are being raised in Rajya Sabha.
Private Members’ Resolutions
A resolution is one of the procedural devices to raise discussion in Lok Sabha on a matter of general public interest. A resolution can be moved by a member or a Minister. Resolutions which are moved by private members are termed as Private Members’ Resolutions.
Form and Content of Resolution
A resolution may be in the form of a declaration of opinion, or a recommendation; or may be in a 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. A resolution must purport to convey the opinion of the House as a whole and not only of a section thereof. Moreover, the subject-matter of a resolution should relate to a matter of general public interest, and only those matters which are primarily the concern of the Government of India can form the subject-matter of a resolution.
Written Intimation and Ballot
A private member who desires to move a resolution has in the first instance only to give written intimation to that effect at least two days before the date of ballot.
The names of members from whom such intimations are received are balloted and those securing the first three places in the ballot for any particular day allotted for private members’ resolutions are eligible to give notice of one resolution each within two days after the date of the ballot. Those resolutions, if admitted by the Speaker, are put down in the List of Business in the order determined by ballot.
A separate ballot is held for each day allotted for private members’ resolutions. The dates and time for holding the ballot are announced in Bulletin— Part II before the commencement of a Session. Members who secure first three places in the ballot are informed of the result of ballot individually in writing.
Conditions of Admissibility
- In order that a resolution may be admissible, it should:
- Be clearly and precisely expressed;
- Raise a substantially one definite issue;
- Contain no arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations or defamatory statements;
- Not refer to the conduct or character of persons except in their official or public capacity;
- Not relate to any matter which is under adjudication by a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India;
- Not relate to a matter which is under consideration of a Parliamentary Committee; and
- Make no reference to any matter where no ministerial responsibility is involved.
Allotment of Time
Allocation of time for discussion of private members’ resolutions is done by the Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions. Generally two hours are allotted for discussion of a private member’s resolution.
Moving of Resolution
When called upon by the Chair, the member in whose name a resolution stands in the List of Business moves the resolution and makes a speech thereon. Other members and the Minister concerned may then speak on the resolution. The mover of a resolution has the right of reply.
Passing of Resolution
A copy of every resolution which has been adopted by the House is forwarded to the Minister concerned.