Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings: Meaning, Types, Applications & Importance

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Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings
Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings

The devices of parliamentary proceedings lie at the heart of the functioning of the supreme legislative bodies of India, including the Parliament and the State Legislatures. Learning about these devices is important to understand the functioning of the legislature in India. This article of NEXT IAS aims to explain the meaning of the Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings, their types, applications, importance, and more.

Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings refers to the various procedural tools, mechanisms, and practices employed within a parliamentary system to facilitate the conduct of the business of the legislature. These devices are essential for the efficient and orderly functioning of the parliament, allowing legislators to discuss, debate, and make decisions to address public issues effectively.

Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings

Legislative bodies in India, including the Parliament and the State Legislatures, employ various devices to run their parliamentary proceedings. Key devices of parliamentary proceedings used in India are discussed in detail as follows.

  • Question Hour is a scheduled period where Members of Parliament (MPs) have the opportunity to ask questions to ministers regarding various matters of public interest during a parliamentary session.
  • This period usually occurs at the first hour of every sitting in both the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of the Indian Parliament.
  • The different types of questions asked to ministers during the Question Hour are as follows:
  • These questions require oral answers from the ministers.
  • MPs who submit starred questions are allowed to ask supplementary questions.
  • These are printed in green color.
  • These questions require written answers from the ministers.
  • MPs who submit unstarred questions do not have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.
  • These are printed in white color.
  • These questions can be asked by giving a notice of less than 10 days.
  • They are answered orally.
  • These are printed in light pink color.
  • In addition to ministers, questions can also be asked to private members regarding some matters related to them.
    • These questions are printed in yellow color.
  • It refers to a scheduled period that starts immediately after the Question Hour and lasts until the agenda or the regular business for the day is taken up.
  • It is used to raise matters without prior notice.
  • It is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure. Thus, it is an informal device.
  • It is an Indian innovation in the field of parliamentary proceedings.
  • A Motion refers to a formal proposal made by a member of the legislature to initiate discussion on a matter of general public importance.
  • It can be moved either by ministers or private members.
  • No discussion on such a matter can take place except on a motion made with the consent of the presiding officer.
  • The House expresses its decisions or opinions on such issues through the adoption or rejection of motions.
  • The motions moved by the members fall into three principal categories:

It is a self-contained independent proposal that deals with very important matters such as the impeachment of the President.

  • It refers to a motion that is moved in substitution of an original motion and proposes an alternative to it.
  • If a Substitute Motion is adopted by the House, it supersedes the original motion.
  • It refers to a motion which in itself has no meaning and cannot state the decision of the House without reference to the original motion or proceedings of the House.
  • There are three subcategories of Subsidiary Motions:

Ancillary Motion

  • It is used as the regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business.

Superseding Motion

  • It is moved in the course of a debate on another issue and seeks to supersede that issue.

Amendment Motion

  • It seeks to modify or substitute only a part of the original motion.
    • Some special types of motions are discussed below in detail.
  • 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, the debate is stopped and the matter is put to vote.
  • There are four kinds of closure motions:

Simple Closure

  • It states that the ‘matter, having been sufficiently discussed, be now put to vote’.

Closure by Compartments

  • In this case, the clauses of a bill or resolutions are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate.
  • The debate, then, covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.

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.

Guillotine Closure

  • This is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolution are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to paucity of time.
  • It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of the privilege of the house or its members by withholding facts or by giving wrong facts.
  • Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.
  • This motion is used by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance and seek an authoritative statement from him thereupon.
  • Like Zero Hour, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure.
  • However, unlike Zero Hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.
  • It is introduced in the Parliament to draw the attention of the House to a definite matter of urgent public importance.
  • It needs the support of at least 50 members to be admitted.
  • It interrupts the normal business of the House. Thus, it is an extraordinary device.
  • It involves an element of censure against the government and hence Rajya Sabha is not permitted to make use of this device.
  • The discussion on an adjournment motion should not be less than two hours and thirty minutes.
  • This motion is subject to the following restrictions:
    • It should raise a matter that is definite, factual, urgent, and of public importance.
    • It should not cover more than one matter.
    • It should be restricted to a specific matter of recent occurrence.
    • It should not be framed in general terms.
    • It should not raise a question of privilege.
    • It should not revive discussion on a matter that has been discussed in the same session.
    • It should not deal with any matter that is under adjudication by the court.
    • It should not raise any questions that can be raised separately through distinct motions.
  • This is a motion moved by a member to express a lack of confidence of the Lok Sabha in the government.
    • This motion is moved in accordance with the provisions under Article 75, which says that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It means that the Government stays in office only as long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of Lok Sabha.
  • It can be moved only in the Lok Sabha.
  • It needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.
  • The motion, if allowed by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, is debated upon and then put to vote. If it gets passed by the House by a Simple Majority, the government has to resign.
  • This motion is moved to seek the disapproval of certain policies of the government.
  • It seeks to censure the government for its ‘lapses’.
  • It can be moved only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The difference between a Censure Motion differs from a No-Confidence Motion can be seen as follows:
Censure MotionNo-Confidence Motion
It should state the reasons for its adoption.It need not state the reasons for its adoption.
It can be moved against an individual minister, a group of ministers, or the entire Council of Ministers.It can be moved against the entire Council of Ministers only.
It is moved for censuring the Council of Ministers for specific policies and actions.It is moved to ascertain the confidence of the Lok Sabha in the Council of Ministers.
If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the Council of Ministers need not resign from office.If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the Council of Ministers must resign from office.
  • The first session after each general election and the first session of every fiscal year is addressed by the president, wherein the president outlines the policies and programs of the government in the preceding year and ensuing year. This address of the president 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.
  • It refers to a motion that has been admitted by the Speaker but no date has been fixed for its discussion.
  • The Speaker, in consultation with the leader of the House or on the recommendation of the Business Advisory Committee, allots time for the discussion of such a motion.
  • A member can raise a point of order when he/she feels that the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal rules of procedure.
  • It suspends the proceedings before the House. Hence, it is an extraordinary device.
  • No debate is allowed on a point of order.
  • 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 a week for such discussions.
  • There is no formal motion or voting before the House for such discussions.
  • The time allotted for such discussions shall not exceed two hours. Hence, it is also known as Two-Hour Discussion.
  • The members of the Parliament can raise such discussions on a matter of urgent public importance.
  • The Speaker can allot two days a week for such discussions.
  • There is no formal motion or voting before the House for such discussions.
  • A matter that is not a Point of Order or that cannot be raised using the above-discussed devices 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’.
  • A matter that is not a Point of Order or that cannot be raised using the above-discussed devices or under any rule of the House can be raised under the Notice (Mention) under Rule 377 in Lok Sabha.
  • It is equivalent to the Special Mention device used in Rajya Sabha for a similar purpose.
  • A resolution is a formal statement or proposal to draw the attention of the House or the government to matters of general public interest.
  • The discussion on a Resolution is strictly relevant to and within the scope of the Resolution.
  • A member who has moved a resolution or amendment to a resolution cannot withdraw it except by the leave of the House.
  • Resolutions are classified into three categories:
  • It is moved by a private member.
  • It is discussed only on alternate Fridays in the afternoon sittings.
  • It is moved by a minister.
  • It can be taken up on any day from Monday to Thursday.
  • It can be moved either by a private member or a minister.
  • It is always tabled in pursuance of a provision of the Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
Difference between Resolutions and Motions
All resolutions are substantive motions. All motions may not be substantive.
All motions are not necessarily put to vote. All resolutions are required to be put to vote.

The devices of parliamentary proceedings hold significant importance in ensuring the orderly conduct of legislative business and fostering democratic deliberation. These devices serve several crucial functions:

  • Facilitate Discussion and Debate – The devices such as motions, resolutions, and adjournment motions provide platforms for lawmakers to discuss and debate various issues, policies, and legislative matters.
  • Ensure Decision-Making– They enable lawmakers to propose, deliberate, and make decisions on important matters affecting the country, including laws, policies, and budget allocations.
  • Promote Accountability- They hold governments and officials accountable by allowing lawmakers to question them, seek clarifications, and scrutinize their actions and policies.
  • Represent Public Interests – They allow lawmakers to represent the interests, concerns, and grievances of their constituents, ensuring that diverse viewpoints are heard and considered.
  • Ensure Transparency – Devices like Question Hour and Zero Hour provide opportunities for lawmakers to seek information from the government, enhancing transparency in governance and decision-making processes.
  • Foster Consensus-Building – Parliamentary debates and discussions help in building consensus among lawmakers, leading to the formulation of policies and laws that reflect the broader interests of society.
  • Uphold Democratic Principles – These devices uphold democratic principles such as freedom of speech, equality, and the right to dissent by providing a forum for open debate, dialogue, and expression of diverse opinions.
  • Promote Good Governance – By facilitating effective legislative processes, parliamentary devices contribute to the promotion of good governance, accountability, and responsiveness to the needs of the people.
  • Ensure Checks and Balances – These devices serve as a mechanism for maintaining checks and balances on the government’s powers, preventing abuse of authority, and ensuring adherence to the rule of law.
  • Empower Citizens – These devices empower citizens by allowing their elected representatives to voice their concerns, advocate for their interests, and participate in decision-making processes that shape the nation’s future.

In conclusion, the devices of parliamentary proceedings serve as the backbone of democratic governance, providing essential mechanisms for debate, decision-making, and accountability within legislative bodies. By ensuring smooth parliamentary proceedings, the devices of parliamentary proceedings facilitate effective governance and democratic discourse. They embody the spirit of dialogue, deliberation, and decision-making that is essential to the democratic ethos.

What are the Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings?

Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings refers to the various procedural tools, mechanisms, and practices employed within a parliamentary system to facilitate the conduct of the business of the legislature.

What are the three types of Parliament Sessions?

The three main types of Parliamentary Sessions are:
1. Budget Session
2. Monsoon Session
3. Winter Session

Who summons and prorogues the Parliamentary Sessions?

The President of India summons and prorogues (adjourns) both Houses of Parliament. The President does this based on the advice of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), headed by the Prime Minister.

What exactly is a Quorum in the House of Commons?

In the House of Commons, a Quorum refers to the minimum number of members required to be present for the House to conduct its proceedings validly.

What are the Parliamentary Procedures?

Parliamentary Procedures refer to the established rules and practices followed during the proceedings of a Parliament or a legislative body. These procedures govern how debates are conducted, how decisions are made, and how legislative business is carried out.

What is Meant by Zero Hour?

It refers to a scheduled period that starts immediately after the Question Hour and lasts until the agenda or the regular business for the day is taken up.

What are the types of Motion?

A Motion refers to a formal proposal made by a member of the legislature to initiate discussion on a matter of general public importance. A few examples are:
– Substantive Motion,
– Adjournment Motion,
– Privilege Motion,
– No-Confidence Motion, etc.

What is the Call Attention Motion?

This motion is used by a Member to call the attention of a Minister to a matter of urgent public importance and seek an authoritative statement from him thereupon.

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