Important Parliamentary terms
(1) ActA Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament/Legislature and assented to by the President/ Governor.
(2) Ad hoc Committee- A Committee constituted by the House or by the Chairman or by the presiding officers of both the Houses jointly to consider and report on specific matter and becomes functus officio as soon as the task is completed.
Adjournment of DebateAdjournment on a motion adopted by the House, of
the debate on a Motion/Resolution/Bill on which the House is then engaged until
a future day or sine die as specified in the motion.
(4) Adjournment of the sitting of the House- Termination of the sitting of the House which meets again at the time appointed for the next sitting.
(5) Adjournment sine die-Termination of a sitting of the House without any definite date being fixed for the next sitting.
(6) Appropriation Bill- A Money Bill passed annually (or at various times of the year) providing for the withdrawal or appropriation from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India, of moneys, voted by Lok Sabha and moneys charged on the Consolidated Fund for the services of a financial year or a part of a financial year.
(7) Ballot- A process to determine inter se priority of more than one notice through a draw of lot.
(8) BillThe draft of a legislative proposal put in the proper form which, when passed by both Houses of Parliament and assented to by the President becomes an Act.
(9) Budget-Annual financial statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India in respect of a financial year. The Budget is laid in Rajya Sabha in two parts viz., the Railway Budget and the General Budget.
(10) Bulletin-Bulletin means the Bulletin of Rajya Sabha. It is published in two parts. Part I contains a brief record of the proceedings of the House at each of its sittings; and Part II contains information on any matter relating to or connected with the business of the House or Committees or other matter which in the opinion of the Chairman may be included therein.
(11) Calendar of Sittings- A calendar showing the provisional days on which Rajya Sabha is to sit and the nature of business to be transacted by it on those days.
(12) Calling Attention A procedure whereby a Member calls the attention of a Minister to a matter of urgent public importance , the Minister makes a brief statement thereon and thereafter the Members seek clarifications.
(13) Casting Vote-The vote cast by the Chairman, or a Member acting as such in the House and by the Chairman or a Member acting as such in a Committee, in the case of an equality of votes on a matter.
(14) Crossing the floorPassing between the member addressing the House and the Chair which is considered breach of Parliamentary etiquette.
(15) Demand for Grants-Earmarking of budgetary allocation for meeting the plan and non-plan expenditure of a Ministry/Department.
(16) Division-The mode of arriving at a decision on a proposed measure or question before the House by recording votes for or against it.
(17) Draw of lot A method applied to determine the relative precedence of private members Bills and Resolutions, notices of questions, half-an-hour discussions or any other notice given by more than one member simultaneously for being taken up on the same day.
(18) Expunction-Deletion of words, phrases or expressions from the proceedings or records of Rajya Sabha by an order of the Chairman for being defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified.
(19) Finance Bill-A Bill ordinarily introduced every year to give effect to the financial proposals of the Government of India for the following financial year and includes a Bill to give effect to supplementary financial proposals for any period.
(20) Financial Business The financial business of the House consists of the laying of the Railway and General Budgets and statements of supplementary Demands for Grants on the Table after they are presented to the Lok Sabha, general discussion on the General and Railway Budgets, consideration and return of connected Appropriate Bills and Finance Bills, laying of Budges, etc. of States which are under the Presidents Rule.
(21) Gazette-The Gazette of India.
(22) Half-an-Hour Discussion-A Member with the permission of the Chairman may raise a discussion on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent oral or written question and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact.
Leader of the Council-The Prime Minister, if he is a member of the
Council or a Minister who is a member of the Council
and is nominated by the Prime Minister to function as the Leader of the
(24) Leader of the Opposition-A Member of the House, who is, for the time being, the leader in that House of the Party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman.
(25) Leave of absence-A member wishing to obtain permission of the House for remaining absent from its sittings is required to make an application stating the reasons and the period for which he may be permitted to be absent from the sittings of the House.
(26) Legislative Business Introduction, consideration and passing of a bill, piloted by a Minister or a Private Member, in the House.
(27) List of Business- A list of items of business scheduled to be taken up in Rajya Sabha on a particular day of the sittings in the order in which they stand on it.
(28) Lobby-The covered corridor immediately adjoining the Chamber and co-terminus with it.
(29) Maiden Speech-The first speech of a member after his election/nomination to the Rajya Sabha in the House.
(30) Matters raised with permission- Immediately after the Question Hour and laying of papers, a Member may raise an issue of urgent public importance with the prior permission of the Chairman.
(31) Member in charge of the Bill-The Minister/Private Member who has introduced the government/Private Members Bill.
(32) Memorandum of business It is meant for the use of the Chair to help him while calling the items listed in the Agenda paper of the day.
(33) Message-A communication from the President to a House or Houses of Parliament under articles 86(2) and 111 of the Constitution and a communication sent from one House of Parliament to the other House.
(34) Motion-A formal proposal made to the House by a Minister or a member that the House do something, order something to be done or express an opinion with regard to some matter, and is so phrased that, if adopted, it will purport to express the judgment or will of the House.
(35) Motion of Thanks-A formal motion moved in the House, expressing its gratitude to the President for the Address delivered by him/her under article 87(1) of the Constitution to both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
(36) Naming a Member-The drawing of attention of the House by the Chairman to the conduct of a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the Rules of the House by persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof, with a view to action being taken to suspend him from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
(37) Ordinance-A law made by the President in exercise of the powers vested in him under article 123 of the Constitution.
(38) Panel of Vice-Chairmen- A panel of six members of Rajya Sabha nominated by the Chairman, any one of whom may preside over the House in the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman when so requested by the Chairman, or in his absence, by the Deputy Chairman.
(39) Papers laid on the Table-The papers or documents laid on the Table of the House for purpose of bringing them on the record of the House by a Minister or by a private member or by the Secretary-General with the permission of the Chairman in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution or the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha or an Act of Parliament and the Rules and Regulations made thereunder.
(40) Personal explanation - A Member or a Minister against whom comments or criticism of a personal nature are made on the floor of the House is entitled to make, with the consent of the Chairman, personal explanation in his defence.
(41) Point of Order- A point relating to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of Procedure or such articles of the Constitution as regulate the business of the House raised in the House and submitted for the decision of the Chair.
(42) Precincts of Rajya Sabha-This includes the Chamber, the Lobbies, the Galleries and such other places as the Chairman may from time to time specify.
(43) Private Members Resolution- A resolution, on a matter of general public interest, a Member, other than a Minister, on a day allotted for Private Members Resolutions which is in the form of a declaration of opinion by the House or in such other form as the Chairman may consider appropriate.
(44) Prorogation-The termination of a session of Rajya Sabha by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution.
(45) Putting the Question-When debate on a question is closed, the Chairman, rising from the Chair, states or reads the question to the House, beginning with The question is, that.
(46) Question Chart-A chart circulated to members, along with the Summons for a Session, which indicates the dates for answering questions and the last date for receiving notices of questions pertaining to various Ministries/ Departments.
(47) Question Hour-The first hour of a sitting of the House allotted for asking and answering of questions.
(48) Question of Privilege-A question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a Committee thereof or a contempt of the House.
(49) Quorum-The minimum number of members required to be present at a sitting of the House or a Committee for valid transaction of its business, which is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House, as provided under article 100(3) of the Constitution.
(50) Rajya Sabha debate A verbatim record of everything said in the House is reported by the official Reporter for each of the sittings of the Rajya Sabha, except certain words, phrases and expression, if any, ordered by the Chair to be expunged or ordered by the Chairman not to be recorded, when Members speak without his permissions.
(51) Roll of Members-A register in which newly elected members sign, after making and subscribing the oath or affirmation and before taking their seats for the first time in the House.
(52) Session-A session of Rajya Sabha comprises the period commencing from the date and time mentioned in the order of the President summoning Rajya Sabha and ending with the day on which the President prorogues Rajya Sabha.
(53) Short Duration Discussion-For raising a discussion on a matter of urgent public importance for which a notice has to be given by a Member supported by two other Members specifying clearly and precisely the matter to be raised.
(54) Short Notice Question-A question relating to a matter of urgent public importance asked for oral answer by a Member with shorter notice than fifteen clear days by giving the reasons for asking the question with short notice.
(55) Sitting of the House-A sitting of the House is duly constituted when it is presided over by the Chairman or a member competent to preside over a sitting of the House under the Constitution or the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha.
(56) Special Mention-A procedure available to a Member who wishes to mention a matter of public importance in the House by reading out from the text not exceeding 250 words.
(57) Standing Committee- Committee constituted by election by the House or nomination by the Chairman every year or from time to time which are permanent in nature.
(58) Starred Question-A question to which a member wishes to have an oral answer on the floor of the House and which is distinguished by an asterisk.
(59) Statutory Resolution-A resolution in pursuance of a provision in the Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
(60) Subordinate LegislationRules, regulations, orders, schemes, bye-laws, etc. having the force of law, framed by the Executive or other subordinate authority in pursuance of the power conferred on it by the Constitution or delegated to it by an Act of Parliament.
(61) SummonsAn official communication issued by the Secretary-General of Rajya Sabha under the orders of the President to the Members of Rajya Sabha informing them of the place, date and time of the commencement of a session of Rajya Sabha.
(62) Supplementary question A Question asked by any member when called by the Chairman for the purpose of further elucidating any matter of fact regarding which an answer has been given during the question hour.
(63) Table of the HouseThe Table just in front of the desk of the Secretary-General below the Chairmans Chair, on which papers which are required to be laid on the Table of the House, are deemed to be placed.
(64) Unstarred QuestionA question which is not called for oral answer in the House and the written answer to such a question is deemed to have been laid on the Table.
(65) Valedictory remarks-It is customary in every Session for the Chair to make the Valedictory remarks at the end of Session thanking Members and leaders of parties and groups for their cooperation in the conduct of business of the House.
(66) Whips Members drawn from the party in power and the parties/groups in opposition to perform specified functions and form vital links in the internal organization of a party inside Parliament.
A Bill is a draft law that Parliament proposes to make. If approved and passed by Parliament, the Bill becomes an Act. A Bill is divided into clauses; these become sections when the Bill becomes an Act. There are three stages through which a bill has to pass in one house of the Parliament.
· First reading - introduction stage
· Second reading - discussion stage
· Third reading - voting stage
First reading introduction stage
A minister, or member-in-charge of the bill seeks the leave of the house to introduce a bill. If the bill is an important one, the minister may make a brief speech, stating its main features. After the bill has been introduced, the first reading is deemed to be over. Therefore, in the first stage, only the principles and provisions of the bills are discussed.
Second reading discussion stage
This stage concerns the consideration of the bill and its provisions and is further divide into three stages.
On a date fixed for taking up consideration of the bill, there takes place a general discussion when only the principles are taken up for discussion. At this stage, three options are open to the house. The bill may be straightaway be taken into consideration or it may be referred to any of the Standing Committees or it may be circulated for the purpose of eliciting general opinion thereon
Second stage, i.e. discussion on the report
The next stage consists of a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill as reported by the committee. When all the clauses have been put to vote and disposed of, the second reading of the bill is over. Changes or amendments to the bill can be made only in this stage. Amendments become a part of a bill if they are accepted by a majority of the members present and voting.
Third reading voting stage
The next stage is the third reading. The debate on the third reading of a bill is of a restricted character. It is confined only to arguments either in support of the bill or for its rejection, without referring to its details. After the bill is passed, it is sent to the other house
Bill in the other house
After a bill, other than a money bill, is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha, it goes through all the stages in that house as that in the first house. But if the bill passed by one house is amended by the other house, it goes back to the originating house. If the originating house does not agree with the amendments, it shall be that the two houses have disagreed.
Joint-session of both houses
In case of a deadlock between the two houses or in a case where more than six months lapse in the other house, the President may summon a joint session of the two houses which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the deadlock is resolved by simple majority. Until now, only three bills: the Dowry Prohibition Act (1961), the Banking Service Commission Repeal Bill (1978) and the Prevention of Terrorism Bill (2002) have been passed at joint sessions.
When a bill has been passed, it is sent to the President for his assent. The President can assent or withhold his assent to a bill or he can return a bill, other than a money bill with his recommendations. If the President gives his assent, the bill becomes an Act from the date of his assent. If he withholds his assent, the bill is dropped. If he returns it for reconsideration, the Parliament must do so, but if it is passed again and returned to him, he must give his assent to it. In the case of a Constitutional Amendment Bill, the President is bound to give his assent.
Different types of Parliamentary Bills
Bills may be classified on the basis of their content as Ordinary Bill, Money and Finance Bills, and Constitution Amendment Bills
Ordinary Bills: Any Bill which is not a Constitution Amendment Bill or a Money Bill is classified as an Ordinary Bill. Ordinary Bills are of five types.
· Original Bills (which embody new proposals, ideas or policies),
· Amending Bills (which modify, amend or revise existing Acts),
· Consolidating Bills (which consolidate existing law on a particular subject),
· Expiring Laws (Continuance) Bills (which authorise the continuation of an expiring Act), and
· Bills to replace Ordinances issued by the President.
Money and Financial Bills: A Bill is considered to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters listed below. A Financial Bill may contain other proposals in addition to these. For example, a Bill that contains a taxation clause, but does not deal solely with taxation is a Financial Bill.
· The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
· The regulation of money borrowed by the Government of India or any guarantee given by the Government of India;
· The Bill can also consider amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations undertaken or to be undertaken by the Government of India;
· The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of India , the payment of moneys into or the withdrawal of moneys from any such Fund;
· The appropriation of moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
· The declaring of a new item to be expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. Also, if there is any increase in the amount of any such expenditure;
· The receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Public Account of India or the custody or the issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a State; or
· Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified above.
Constitution Amendment Bills: These Bills seek to amend the Constitution of India.
How are the various types of Bills passed by the Parliament?
An Ordinary Bill may be introduced in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. The Bill needs to be passed by both Houses by a majority of members present and voting. If it is passed by the House in which it was introduced, and rejected by the other House, the President may call a joint sitting of both the Houses. In this sitting, the decision to accept or reject a Bill is taken by the majority of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting.
A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and requires the recommendation of the President. However, the Speaker of the House has the final authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. A Money Bill cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha nor can it be referred to a Joint Committee of Houses or be considered at a Joint Sitting of the two Houses. Once a Money Bill is passed in the Lok Sabha it is sent to the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha may not amend Money Bills but can recommend amendments. A Money Bill should be returned by the Rajya Sabha to the Lok Sabha within 14 days or the Bill is deemed to have passed both Houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha has the discretion to accept or reject the recommended Amendments made by the Rajya Sabha.
A Constitution Amendment Bill may be introduced in either House and follow a process similar to an Ordinary Bill. The difference lies in the majority required to pass the Bills. Articles of the Constitution are classified into three categories for the purpose of amendment:
· Articles amendable by simple majority of members present The Food Safety and Standards Bill, 2005 Parliamentary Research Service February 13, 2006 - 8 - and voting;
· Articles which require special majority for their amendment, i.e., by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting; and
· Articles which require a special majority as well as ratification by the legislatures of not less than one-half of the States. The Constitution does not provide for any time limit within which the States must give their consent for the ratification of a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, referred to them for this purpose.
What is a Finance Bill?
The Finance Bill incorporates all the financial proposals of the Government for the following year. It is ordinarily introduced in the Lok Sabha every year, immediately after the Budget is presented. This Bill has to be considered and passed by the Parliament and assented to by the President within 75 days after its introduction. This Bill is classified as a Money Bill.
Types of Parliamentary Questions
A Question is one of the devices available to a Member of Parliament to seek information on matter of public importance concerning subjects detail with by the Ministries and Departments and to force on the omissions and commissions of the government.
There are three types of Questions:
· Starred Questions: Starred questions are required to be answered orally by the concerned Minister. These Questions are distinguished by an asterisk mark. Members of Parliament have the option to raise the Supplementary Questions based on the replies to the starred Questions. These Questions for which a notice period of minimum 10 days and maximum 21 days has been prescribed are asked during the question Hour on the fixed days allotted to the Ministry/Department. Started Questions from Lok Sabha are printed on green paper and those of Rajya Sabha questions on pink paper.
· Unstarred Questions: Unstarred Questions do not carry asterisk mark and are answered in a written form. The notice period is the same as that for the started Questions and these are also asked on the allotted days of the Department/Ministry during Question Hour. Lok Sabha Unstarred Questions are printed during Question hour. Lok Sabha Unstated Questions are printed on white paper and those of Rajya Sabha on yellow paper. The replies to the Unstarred Questions are laid on the Table of the House.
· Short Notice Questions: Short Notice Questions relate to a matter of urgent public importance and can be asked with a notice shorter than 10 days. These Questions are answered orally by the Minister concerned and Supplementary Questions can also be asked. However, a Short Notice Question can be asked only with the concurrence of the Minister. The Short Notice questions from Lok Sabha are printed on pinky white paper and those of Rajya Sabha on white paper.
Question Hour in Parliament
Question Hour is the first hour in India's Lok Sabha devoted to questions. During this hour members can raise questions about any aspect of administrative activity. This sort of a process where elected representatives ask questions that are replied by the Prime Minister or other government ministers is part of parliamentary tradition in many other countries.
Zero Hour in Parliament
During the Zero Hour members raise matters of importance, especially those which cannot be delayed. Nobody knows which issue a member would raise during this hour. As a result, questions so raised without prior notice result in avoidable loss of precious time of the House. It also obstructs the regular proceedings and business of the House.
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 to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact. Normally not more than half an hour is allowed for such a discussion.
Selected Parliamentary Procedures
One tenth of the total number of members of Rajya Sabha constitutes the quorum for a meeting of the House and the quorum to initiate a session of the Lok Sabha is 55 members (one-tenth of the total membership).
Prorogation means the termination of a session of the House by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution. Usually, prorogation follows the adjournment of the sitting of the House sine die.
An adjournment terminates the sitting of the House which meets again at the time appointed for the next sitting. An adjournment also signifies brief break of the sitting of the House which re-assembles at the appointed time on the same day.
Dissolution of the House means the end of the life of the Lok Sabha either by an order made by the President under article 85 (2) (b) of the Constitution or on the expiration of the period of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.
The president is also authorised to issue ordinances with the force of acts of Parliament when Parliament is not in session.
What is a Budget?
Budget is Estimate of inflows and outflows of the Government during a year. Budget is presented for the ensuing Financial year.
What does Budget consist of?
Every budget consist of Actual figures for preceding years, Budget and revised figures for the current year, Budget estimates for the following years.
When is Budget presented?
Budget is to be presented in Lok Sabha on a day as the President directs.
Who draws the timetable for Budget?
Timetable is drawn by the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of Parliament. In the schedule drawn up by the BAC, there is a fixed period of discussion for each ministry.
Who has the responsibility for Budget?
Budget Division in the Finance Ministry has the overall responsibility. It prepares the budget on basis of proposal received from various departments and ministries and the availability of funds. However, final approval is from the Prime Minister.
What if Budget is not approved by 1st April?
The Constitution empowers Lok Sabha to grant a Vote-on-Account (Article 116) so that the government can continue with the necessary expenditure into the new fiscal, before the Budget proposals actually get passed after necessary discussions. The vote-on-account normally covers the expenditure requirement of the government for two months.
Presentation of Budget in the Parliament
General Budget: It is presented in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Finance. He makes a speech introducing the Budget and it is only in the concluding part of his speech that the proposals for fresh taxation or for variations in the existing taxes are disclosed by him. The Annual Financial Statement is laid on the Table of Rajya Sabha at the conclusion of the speech of the Finance Minister in Lok Sabha.
Vote on Account
Since Parliament is not able to vote the entire budget before the commencement of the new financial year, the necessity to keep enough finance at the disposal of Government in order to allow it to run the administration of the country remains. A special provision is, therefore, made for "Vote on Account" by which Government obtains the Vote of Parliament for a sum sufficient to incur expenditure on various items for a part of the year.
Approval of Budget in the Parliament
In India, the Budget is presented to Parliament on such date as is fixed by the President. The Budget speech of the Finance Minister is usually in two parts. Part A deals with general economic survey of the country while Part B relates to taxation proposals.
The Budget is discussed in two stages in Lok Sabha. First, there is the General Discussion on the Budget as a whole. This lasts for about 4 to 5 days. Only the broad outlines of the Budget and the principles and policies underlying it are discussed at this stage.
Consideration of the Demands by Standing Committees of Parliament
After the first stage of General Discussion on both Railway as well as General Budget is over, the House is adjourned for a fixed period. During this period, the Demands for Grants of various Ministries/Departments including Railways are considered by concerned Standing Committees (Rule 331G). These Committees are required to make their reports to the House within specified period without asking for more time.
Voting on Demands
After the reports of the Standing Committees are presented to the House, the House proceeds to the discussion and Voting on Demands for Grants, Ministry-wise. The time for discussion and Voting of Demands for Grants is allocated by the Speaker in consultation with the Leader of the House. On the last day of the allotted days, the Speaker puts all the outstanding Demands to the Vote of the House. This device is popularly known as guillotine.
Motions for reduction to various Demands for Grants are made in the form of Cut Motions seeking to reduce the sums sought by Government on grounds of economy or difference of opinion on matters of policy or just in order to voice a grievance.
After the General Discussion on the Budget proposals and Voting on Demands for Grants have been completed, Government introduces the Appropriation Bill. The Appropriation Bill is intended to give authority to Government to incur expenditure from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India. The procedure for passing this Bill is the same as in the case of other money Bills.
The Finance Bill seeking to give effect to the Governments taxation proposals which is introduced in Lok Sabha immediately after the presentation of the General Budget, is taken up for consideration and passing after the Appropriation Bill is passed. However, certain provisions in the Bill relating to levy and collection of fresh duties or variations in the existing duties come into effect immediately on the expiry of the day on which the Bill is introduced by virtue of a declaration under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act. Parliament has to pass the Finance Bill within 75 days of its introduction.
No expenditure in excess of the sums authorised by Parliament can be incurred without the sanction of Parliament. Whenever a need arises to incur extra expenditure, a Supplementary estimate is laid before Parliament. If any money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amounts granted for that service and for that year, the Minister of Finance/ Railways presents a Demand for Excess Grant. The procedure followed in Parliament in regard to Supplementary/Excess Grants is more or less the same as is adopted in the case of estimates included in the General Budget.