35 Descriptive Questions & Answers on Indian Polity (Part II)

A bill is a draft legislative proposal before the house. It becomes an act only when passed by both the houses of parliament and assented to by the president. While the term `motion' in parliamentary parlance means any formal proposal made to the house by a member for the purpose of eliciting a decision of the house.
Created On: Oct 20, 2016 17:47 IST

In the various competitive exams, it is observed that question related to polity plays a very crucial role in deciding the selection of the candidates. In the mains exams of IAS/PCS etc. descriptive questions of Indian polity are asked frequently. So to serve these students we are giving here 35 questions with their answers.

Question 1. What is a Half-an-Hour Discussion?

Answer. Another instrument available to the Members of Lok Sabha for raising issue of public importance is the Half-an-Hour Discussion. Under this, a Member may raise discussion on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent question, Starred, Unstarred or Short Notice Question and the answer to which needs further elucidation on a matter of fact.

Question 2. What is the procedure for Half-an-Hour Discussion?

Answer. The procedure regarding Half-an-Hour Discussion is regulated by Rule 55 of the ‘Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha’ and Direction 19 of the ‘Directions by the Speaker’. Under this, a Member may give notice to raise a discussion on a matter of sufficient public importance and which has been the subject of a recent question, Starred, Unstarred or Short Notice Question, and the answer to which needs further elucidation on a matter of fact. A notice is also required to be accompanied by an ‘Explanatory Note’ stating the reasons for raising the discussion and should also be signed. Normally, only one notice of Half-an-Hour Discussion is put down for a sitting and no formal motion is moved in the House nor does voting take place. The Member who has given notice makes a short statement and the Members who have previously intimated the Speaker and have secured one of the four places in the ballot are permitted to put a question each for the purpose of further elucidating any matter of fact. Thereafter, the Minister concerned replies briefly.

Question 3. When a Half-an-Hour Discussion is taken up?

Answer.  Half-an-Hour Discussions are normally held on three sittings in a week namely, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Normally, Half-an-Hour Discussion is not held on the first sitting of the session. Further, normally the Half-an-Hour Discussion is not held till the passage of the Finance Bill by the House. As the name suggests, normally the discussion is for half an hour on the said days and is taken up during the last half an hour of the sitting.

Question 4. What is a Bill?

Answer. A Bill is the draft of a legislative proposal brought before the House for its approval.

Question 5. What are the different types of Bills?

Answer. Bills initiated by Ministers are called Government Bills and those introduced by Members who are not Ministers are known as Private Members' Bills. Depending on their contents, Bills may further be classified broadly into (a) Original Bills (Bills embodying new proposals, ideas or policies); (b) Amending Bills (Bills which seek to modify, amend or revise the existing Acts); (c) Consolidating Bills (Bills which seek to consolidate existing laws on a particular subject; (d) Expiring Laws (Continuance) Bills (Bills to continue an expiring Act); (e) Repealing Bills (Bills seeking to repeal existing Acts); (f) Bills to replace Ordinances; (g) Constitution (Amendment) Bills; and (h) Money and Financial Bills.

Question 6. Who decides whether a Bill is an ordinary Bill or a Money Bill?

Answer. In case any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker, Lok Sabha, thereon, is final. When a Bill is held to be a Money Bill, the Speaker endorses a certificate thereon duly signed by the Speaker to that effect that it is a Money Bill before the Bill is sent to the Rajya Sabha or presented to the President for assent.

Question 7. What is the difference between a Bill and an Act?

Answer A Bill is a draft legislative proposal before the House. It becomes an Act only when passed by both the Houses of Parliament and assented to by the President.

Question 8. What are the various steps involved in the passage of a Bill?

Answer. A Bill while being considered has to undergo three stages in each House of Parliament. The first stage consists of the introduction of the Bill which is done on a motion moved by either a Minister or a Member.

During the second stage, any of the following motions can be moved: that the Bill be taken into consideration; that it be referred to a Select Committee of the House; that it be referred to a Joint Committee of the two Houses; or that it be circulated for the purpose of eliciting opinion thereon. Thereafter, the Bill is taken up for clause-by-clause consideration as introduced or as reported by the Select/Joint Committee.

The third stage is confined to the discussion on the motion that the Bill be passed and the Bill is passed/rejected either by voting or voice vote (or returned to the Lok Sabha by the Rajya Sabha in the case of a Money Bill).

Question 9. What is Budget?

Answer. Budget is the `Annual Financial Statement' or the Statement of the Estimated Receipts and Expenditure of the Government of India in respect of each financial year, presented to the Lok Sabha on such day as the President may direct. A copy of the Budget is laid in the Rajya Sabha soon after its presentation in the Lok Sabha. The preparation and presentation of the Budget for the approval of the Legislature is a constitutional obligation on the part of the Government, both at the Centre and in the States. It is covered in article 112 of the Indian constitution.

Question 10. When is the Budget Session of Parliament held?

Answer. The Budget Session of Parliament is normally held during February to May of the year. During this period, the Budget comes before the Parliament for its deliberation, voting and approval; the Departmentally related Standing Committees consider the Demands for Grants of Ministries/Departments and report on the same to the Houses of Parliament.

Question 11. Who presents the Budget in the House?

Answer. Two types of Budgets are usually presented in the House namely, the General Budget and the Railway Budget. The General Budget is presented by the Minister of Finance and the Railway Budget by the Minister of Railways.

Question 12. What is a Calling Attention?

Answer. Under this procedural device, a Member may, with the prior permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance and the Minister may make a brief statement thereon. There shall be no debate on such a statement at the time it is made. After the statement, brief clarifications can be sought from the Minister by the Member who has initiated the Calling Attention and other Members whose names appear in the List of Business are called by the Speaker. Only those matters which are primarily the concern of the Union Government can be raised through a Calling Attention notice. The Calling Attention procedure is an Indian innovation which combines asking a question with supplementaries and making brief comments; the Government also gets adequate opportunity to state its case. The Calling Attention matter is not subject to the vote of the House. 

Question 13. What is a Motion?

Answer. The term `motion' in parliamentary parlance means any formal proposal made to the House by a Member for the purpose of eliciting a decision of the House. It is phrased in such a way that, if adopted, it will purport to express the judgement or will of the House. Any matter of importance can be the subject matter of a motion. The mover of a motion frames it in a form in which he/she wishes it ultimately to be passed by the House and on which a vote of the House can conveniently be taken.

Question 14. What are the different types of Motions?

Answer. Motions may be classified into three broad categories, namely, substantive motions, substitute motions and subsidiary motions. 

A substantive motion is a self-contained, independent proposal made in reference to a subject which the mover wishes to bring forward. All Resolutions, Motions for election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, and Motion of Thanks on the Address by the President, etc. are examples of substantive motions.

A substitute motion, as its name suggests, is moved in substitution of the original motion for taking into consideration a policy or situation or statement or any other matter. Amendments to substitute motions are not permissible. 

Subsidiary motions depend upon or relate to other motions or follow up on some proceedings in the House. By itself, a subsidiary motion has no meaning and is not capable of stating the decision of the House without reference to the original motion or the proceedings of the House.

Question 15. What is an Adjournment Motion?

Answer. Adjournment Motion is the procedure for adjournment of the business of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, which can be moved with the consent of the Speaker. The Adjournment Motion, if admitted, leads to setting aside of the normal business of the House for discussing the matter mentioned in the motion. To be in order, an adjournment motion must raise a matter of sufficient public importance to warrant interruption of normal business of the House and the question of public importance is decided on merit in each individual case. The purpose of an Adjournment Motion is to take the Government to task for a recent act of omission or commission having serious consequences. Its adoption is regarded as a sort of censure of the Government.

Question 15. What is a Motion of No-confidence?

Answer. The Government must always enjoy majority support in the popular House to remain in power. If need be, it has to demonstrate its strength on the floor of the House by moving a Motion of Confidence and winning the confidence of the House. In view of the express Constitutional provision regarding collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Lok Sabha, a motion expressing want of confidence in an individual Minister is out of order; under the Rules, only a motion expressing want of confidence in the Council of Ministers as a body is admissible. Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha lays down the procedure for moving a Motion of No-Confidence in the Council of Ministers. The usual format of such a motion is that "this House expresses its want of confidence in the Council of Ministers". A Motion of No-confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based. Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the No-confidence Motion.

Question 16. What is a No-Day-Yet-Named Motion?

Answer 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 time for the same.

Question 17. What is meant by a Discussion under Rule 193?

Answer. Discussion under Rule 193 does not involve a formal motion before the House. Hence no voting can take place after discussion on matters under this rule. The Member, who gives notice may make a short statement and such of the Members as have previously intimated to the Speaker, may be permitted to take part in the discussion. The Member who raises the discussion has no right of reply. At the end of the discussion, the Minister concerned gives a brief reply.

Question 18. What is a Short Duration Discussion?

Answer. In order to provide opportunities to Members to discuss matters of urgent public importance, a convention was established in March 1953 which was incorporated later into the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Business in Lok Sabha under Rule 193 as Short Duration Discussion. Under this Rule, Members can raise discussion for short durations without a formal motion or vote thereon.

Question 19. What is meant by matters under Rule 377?

Answer. Matters, which are not points of order can be raised by way of Special Mentions under Rule 377. This procedural device, framed in 1954, provides opportunity to the Members to raise matters of general public interest. At present, the number of matters that can be raised by Members under rule 377 on a single day is 20.

Question 20. What is ‘Zero Hour’?

Answer. The time immediately following the Question Hour and laying of papers and before any listed business is taken up in the House has come to be popularly known as the `Zero Hour'. As it starts around 12 noon, this period is euphemistically termed as `Zero Hour'. For raising matters during the ‘Zero Hour’ in Lok Sabha, Members give notice between 8.30 a.m. and 9.00 a.m. every day to the Speaker stating clearly the subject which they consider to be important and wish to raise in the House. It is, of course, for the Speaker to allow or not to allow for raising such matters in the House. The term `Zero Hour' is not formally recognised in our parliamentary procedure.

Question 21. How many matters are allowed to be raised under ‘Zero Hour’ ?

Answer. At present, twenty matters per day as per their priority in the ballot are allowed to be raised during "Zero Hour". The order in which the matters will be raised is decided by the Speaker at his/her discretion. In the first phase, 5 matters of urgent national and international importance, as decided by the Chair, are taken up after Question Hour and laying of papers, etc. In the second phase, the remaining admitted matters of urgent public importance are taken up after 6.00 P.M. or at the end of the regular business of the House. However, since there is no provision in the rules regarding ‘Zero Hour’, hence there is no maximum limit on the number of matters that can be raised on any given day.

Question 22. What is a Resolution?

Answer. A Resolution is a formal expression of the sense, will or action of the Legislative Body. Resolutions may be broadly divided into three categories:

1. Resolutions which are expression of opinion by the House: Since the purpose of such a Resolution is merely to obtain an expression of opinion of the House, the Government is not bound to give effect to the opinions expressed in these Resolutions.

2. Resolutions which have statutory effect: The notice of a Statutory Resolution is given in pursuance of a provision in the Constitution or an Act of Parliament. Such a Resolution, if adopted, is binding on the Government and has the force of law.

3. Resolutions which the House passes in the matter of control over its own proceedings: It has the force of law and its validity cannot be challenged in any court of law. The House, by such a Resolution, evolves, sometimes, its own procedure to meet a situation not specifically provided for in the Rules.

Question 23. What is a Point of Order?

Answer. A Point of Order relates to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the House or convention or such Articles of the Constitution as regulate the business of the House and raises a question which is within the cognizance of the Speaker.

A Point of Order may be raised only in relation to the business before the House at the moment, provided that the Speaker may permit a Member to raise a Point of Order during the interval between the termination of one item of business and the commencement of another if it relates to maintenance of order in, or arrangement of business before, the House. A Member may formulate a Point of Order and the Speaker shall decide whether the point raised is a Point of Order and if so give the decision thereon, which is final.

Question 24. Does the Speaker have the power to adjourn the House or suspend the sitting?

Answer: Under Rule 375, in the case of a grave disorder arising in the House, the Speaker may, if thinks it necessary to do so, adjourn the House or suspend any sitting for a time to be named by the Speaker.

Question 25. When does the President address the Parliament?

Answer. The Constitution provides for an Address by the President to either House or both Houses assembled together [Article 86(1)]. The Constitution also makes incumbent upon the President to address both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first Session after each General Election to the Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first Session each year and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. [Article 87(1)]. The matters referred to in the Address by the President to the Houses are discussed on a Motion of Thanks moved by a Member and seconded by another Member.

Question 26. Can Members raise questions on the Address by the President?

Answer. No Member can raise questions on the Address by the President. Any action on the part of a Member which mars the occasion or creates disturbance is punishable by the House to which that Member belongs. Discussion on matters referred to in the Address takes place on a Motion of Thanks moved by a Member and seconded by another Member. The scope of discussion on the Address is very wide and the functioning of the entire administration is open for discussion; the limitations inter alia are that Members should not refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Government of India, and the name of the President should not be brought in during the debate since the Government, and not the President, is responsible for the contents of the Address. 

Question 27. What are parliamentary privileges?

Answer. The term `parliamentary privilege' refers to certain rights and immunities enjoyed by each House of Parliament and Committees of each House collectively, and by Members of each House individually, without which they cannot discharge their functions efficiently and effectively. The object of parliamentary privileges is to safeguard the freedom, the authority and the dignity of Parliament. The powers, privileges and immunities of either House of Parliament and of its Committees and Members have mainly been laid down in article 105 of the Constitution. The House has the power to punish any person who commits a contempt of the House or a breach of any of its privileges.

Question 76. Are the parliamentary privileges codified in India?

Answer. No law has so far been enacted by Parliament in pursuance of article 105(3) of the Constitution to define the powers, privileges and immunities available to each House and its Members and the Committees thereof. In the absence of any such law, the powers, privileges and immunities of the Houses of Parliament, and of the Members and the Committees thereof, shall be those of that House and of its Members and Committees immediately before the coming into force of section 15 of the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1978.

Question 28. What is the difference between breach of privilege and contempt of the House?

Answer. When any of the privileges, either of the Members individually or of the House in its collective capacity, is disregarded or attacked by any individual or authority, the offence is called a `breach of privilege'.

Contempt of the House may be defined generally as any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officers of such House in the discharge of his or her duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results even though there is no precedent of the offence. Whereas all breaches of privilege are contempts of the House, a person may be guilty of a contempt of the House even though he does not violate any of the privilege of the House, e.g. when he disobeys an order to attend a Committee or publishes reflections on the character or conduct of a Member in his capacity as a Member. 

Question 29. What is the procedure for addressing a question of privilege?

Answer. A question of privilege may either be considered and decided by the House itself or it may be referred by the House or by the Speaker to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report. 

Question 30. What is the rule relating to 'Automatic Suspension' of a Member?

Answer. Rule 374A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha provides that in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a Member coming into the well of the House or abusing the rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such Member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the Session, whichever is less.

Question 31. What is the MPLAD Scheme? 

Answer. The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) was introduced in December 1993. Under this Scheme, a Member of Lok Sabha has the choice to suggest to the Head of the District, developmental works to the tune of Rs. Five crore per year, to be taken up in his/her constituency.

Question 32. What is the current salary of a Member?

Answer. At present, a Member of Parliament is entitled to Rs. 50,000/- per month as salary, Rs. 45,000/- per month as Constituency Allowance, Rs.45,000/- per month as Office Expense Allowance out of which Rs. 15,000/- is for meeting expenses of stationery items and postage; and up to Rs. 30,000/- is paid by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to the person(s) as may be engaged by a member for obtaining secretarial assistance. A Member also gets daily allowance of Rs. 2,000 for the period of residence on duty. Daily allowance will be paid only when he/she signs the register maintained for the purpose.

Question 33. Are Members of Parliament entitled to any pension?

Answer. Every person who has served as a Member of the Provisional Parliament or either House of Parliament for any period is entitled to a pension of Rs.20,000/- per month w.e.f. 18 May 2009. Where any person has served for a period exceeding five years, he/she shall be paid an additional pension of Rs.1500/- per month for every year in excess of five years. For the purpose of calculation of years for determination of additional pension, the period of nine months or more is treated as one complete year.

Question 34. What is hung parliament?

Answer. It’s a kind of parliament wherein no party has won a working majority.

Question 35. What is act of God?

Answer. It’s a direct, violent sudden and irresistible act of nature, which could not be by any reasonable care having been foreseen or resisted.

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