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Indian Polity

Question Hour to Resume during Budget Session

  • 22 Jan 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Question Hour, which had been suspended by the government during the monsoon session, will resume when Parliament meets for the budget session.

  • The suspension was done in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government had also cancelled the winter session of Parliament citing a rising number of Covid cases.

Key Points

  • Question Hour (Description):
    • The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for the Question Hour. However, in 2014, the Question Hour was shifted in the Rajya Sabha from 11 am to 12 noon.
    • During this one hour, Members of Parliament (MPs) ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries.
    • The questions can also be asked to the private members (MPs who are not ministers).
  • Regulation: It is regulated according to parliamentary rules.
    • The presiding officers of the both Houses (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) are the final authority with respect to the conduct of Question Hour.
  • Types of Questions: There are three kinds of questions asked:
    • Starred question (distinguished by an asterisk): This requires an oral answer and hence supplementary questions can follow.
    • Unstarred question: This requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.
    • Short notice question: It is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally.
  • Frequency: Question Hour in both Houses is held on all days of the session. But there are two days when an exception is made.
    • When the President addresses MPs from both Houses.
      • The President’s speech takes place at the beginning of a new Lok Sabha and on the first day of a new Parliament year.
    • On the day the Finance Minister presents the Budget.
  • Previous Sessions Without Question Hour:
    • In the past too, the Question Hour has been suspended. They were suspended during national emergencies.
  • Importance of Question Hour:
    • Parliamentarian right: Asking of questions is an inherent and unfettered parliamentary right of members.
    • Holds government accountable:
      • It is during the Question Hour that the members can ask questions on every aspect of administration and Governmental activity.
        • Government policies in national as well as international spheres come into sharp focus.
      • Like in trials, during the Question Hour, every Minister has to answer for their acts of administrative omission and commission.
    • Adaptation of policies: Through the Question Hour, the Government is able to quickly feel the pulse of the nation and adapt its policies and actions accordingly.
    • Appointment of a Commission: Sometimes questions may lead to the appointment of a Commission, a Court of Enquiry or even Legislation when matters raised by Members are of wide public importance.

Sessions of Parliament

  • Summoning of Parliament:
    • The summoning of Parliament is specified in Article 85 of the Constitution.
    • The power to convene a session of Parliament rests with the government.
      • The decision is taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs which is formalised by the President, in whose name MPs are summoned to meet for a session.
  • Schedule of the Sessions:
    • India does not have a fixed parliamentary calendar.
    • However, the gap between two sessions of the Parliament cannot exceed 6 months, which means the Parliament meets at least two times in one year.
    • By convention (i.e. not provided by the Constitution), Parliament meets for three sessions in a year.
      • Budget session: The longest, Budget Session (1st session), starts towards the end of January, and concludes by the end of April or first week of May.
        • The session has a recess so that Parliamentary Committees can discuss the budgetary proposals.
      • Monsoon session: The second session is the three-week Monsoon Session, which usually begins in July and finishes in August.
      • Winter Session: It is the third session held from November to December.

Source: TH

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