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Indian Polity / Union Legislature

Parliamentary Terminology of India

There are various Parliamentary terms used in India, some of which are indigenous and some are borrowed. The Parliamentary terminology includes Session, Adjournment, Adjournment sine die, Prorogue, Quorum, Question Hour, Zero Hour, Adjournment Motion, Calling Attention Motion, No Confidence Motion, etc.

Terminology used in Parliament

  • Session - Session is the time span between the commencement of the business of the Parliament until it is prorogued. The session is divided into number of sittings. Sittings are being separated by an adjournment.

  • Adjournment - Postponing the business of the House for a specific time.

  • Sitting - A gap between one Adjournment to another Adjournment.

  • Adjournment sine die - Postponement of the business of the House indefinitely or without specific time. Both Adjournment and Adjournment sine die are made by presiding officer. Here sine means 'without' and die means 'date'.

  • Prorogue - It is the termination of the sessions of the house or Prorogue brings an end to the Session. President of India prorogues both the Houses. However, the Prorogue must always be preceded by Adjourn sine die.

  • Recess - The gap between one Session of the Parliament to another Session is called Recess period.

  • Quorum - It is the minimum headcount of members who need to be present in a House so as to transact the business of the House.

    In Indian scenario, the Quorum is equal to 1/10th of the total members of the House which includes the presiding officer also.

  • Question Hour - Question hour in India is the first hour of every sitting in which asking questions as well as responding to the questions will take place.

    The members will ask questions and the minister concerned will reply. Question Hour starts generally at 11am but it is not fixed. The duration is generally 1 hour.

  • Zero Hour - Zero hour is one of the Indian innovation in Parliamentary procedures. It has been there in Parliamentary procedure from 1962 onwards.

    However, the word Zero Hour is not specified in the Parliamentary procedure. It is a type of Question Hour where any member can raise questions without prior notice.

    There is no specific timing for Zero Hour. The Zero Hour is generally the time span between completion of Question Hour and before the commencement of regular agenda. However, the members should not insist for answers in Zero Hour.

  • Calling Attention Motion - Motion is a procedure to initiate a discussion. Calling Attention Motion is also an Indian innovation. It can be introduced in both the Houses of Parliament.

    The main intent of Calling Attention Motion is to draw attention of the minister concerned on a crucial public problem which is urgent in nature.

    It is used to get an authoritative or authentic information. It was introduced in 1954. The concerned minister makes only statement and there will not be any voting or discussion on the issue.

  • Adjournment Motion - It is also called Motion of Motion. This is the most powerful Motion which can be brought in only in the Lower House of Parliament.

    If it is admitted, there will be a discussion on the issue and voting happens. For introduction of this motion, a notice signed by at least 50 members must be served to the speaker of Lok Sabha.

    The intent of this motion is to draw attention of the House on a crucial public issue which is specific, urgent and current in nature. If it is voted, Government is deemed to be admitted to its failure.

    Morally, it has to step down. But technically and constitutionally, there will not be any threat to the Government. It is the most severe criticism against Government.

  • Censure Motion - This Motion can be introduced in both the Houses of Parliament. Members need to give reason for censuring. It can be given against a Minister, group of Ministers or entire Council of Ministers. It can be put to voting.

    The intention of this Motion is to give a warning to a Minister for the negligence, indifference, non-responsibility or misbehavior. The Government need not to resign with this Motion.

  • No Confidence Motion - It is the ultimate Motion which brings down the Government. This motion shall be introduced only in the Lower House of Parliament, since Government is accountable to Lok Sabha.

    For that, a notice signed by 50 members, must be given to Speaker of Lok Sabha. If it is admitted, there will be discussion on the issue and voting happens.

    Motion has to be approved by the majority of the House i.e. by more than half the total members of the House, then the Government must have to resign. No reason has to be given for introduction of No Confidence Motion in the House.

  • Point of Order - It is a Legislative device to verify whether the House is transacting its business according to Rules and Procedures.

    A member of the concerned House can raise a Point of Order if Rules and Procedures are not followed. There will be no discussion, no voting and Speaker ruling is final.

Extra Information

  • There are two types of questions that are asked in Question Hour. They are starred and unstarred questions. A question is being distinguished by an asterisk mark.

    Starred questions carry oral answers from the minister concerned and generally they are important in nature. It is the presiding officer who allots the star mark.

    The starred questions will generally have one or two supplementary questions. For unstarred questions minister concerned provides written reply.

  • Admitting or rejecting any Motion is the sole discretion of presiding officer. It cannot be moved in any court of law.