Parliament ‘Special Session’ 

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    Syllabus:GS2/ Polity

    News

    • A ‘special’ five-day session of Parliament began with a discussion on the parliament’s journey of 75 years.

    Background

    • Article 85 of the Constitution deals with prorogation and dissolution of Parliament. While there is no fixed schedule, the provisions of the Article specify that the President must summon the Houses to meet at least once within six months. 
    • “The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session”.

    Sessions of Parliament

    • The Constitution doesn’t provide for a fixed number of sessions or days of sitting.
    • Three sessions are typically held each calendar year — the Budget, Monsoon, and Winter sessions. 
    • The Central government has the authority to call for a session, and the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), determines the date and number of sittings. 
    • After finalizing the session schedule, the President calls upon the Members of Parliament to convene for the upcoming session. The MPs are informed about the number of sittings and other details about the tentative business of the House through the summons sent by the President.

    When is a ‘Special Session’ Conducted?

    • The term ‘special session’ is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution or in the rulebooks of the two Houses of Parliament. There are no specific guidelines on how or when such a session can be convened. 
    • However, Article 352, which deals with the proclamation of Emergency, refers to a ‘special sitting’ of the House. This clause was added through the 44th Amendment Act in 1978, which included safeguards against the Emergency.
    • Several special sessions including midnight sessions have been called for a special purpose or agenda, or to mark occasions of national significance.

    Special Sittings in the Past

    • The first such sitting was held on the eve of Independence in 1947 to mark the transfer of power from the British to India. 
    • This was followed by a special session in 1962 during the Indo-China war when the Winter Session was advanced to discuss the Chinese aggression. 
    • In 1972 the government convened a sitting to mark 25 years of Independence. 
    • In 1992, a midnight session was called to mark the 50th anniversary of the Quit India Movement. 
    • In August 1997, a six-day special session was called to commemorate 50 years of Independence.
    • The most recent was in June 2017 when the government held a special session to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

    Source: TH