The Parliament – Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings -4


Question Hour

The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the members ask

questions and the ministers usually give answers. The questions are of three kinds, namely, starred,

unstarred and short notice.

A starred question (distinguished by an asterisk) requires an oral answer and hence supplementary

questions can follow.

A n unstarred question, on the other hand, requires a written answer and hence, supplementary

questions cannot follow.

A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally.

Zero Hour

Unlike the question hour, the zero hour is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure. Thus it is an

informal device available to the members of the Parliament to raise matters without any prior notice.

The zero hour starts immediately after the question hour and lasts until the agenda for the day (ie,

regular business of the House) is taken up. In other words, the time gap between the question hour and

the agenda is known as zero hour. It is an Indian innovation in the field of parliamentary procedures

and has been in existence since 1962.


No discussion on a matter of general public importance can take place except on a motion made with

the consent of the presiding officer. The House expresses its decisions or opinions on various issues

through the adoption or rejection of motions moved by either ministers or private members. The motions moved by the members to raise discussions on various matters fall into three principal categories

  1. Substantive Motion: It is a self-contained independent proposal dealing with a very important matter like impeachment of the President or removal of Chief Election Commissioner.
  2. Substitute Motion: It is a motion that is moved in substitution of an original motion and proposes an alternative to it. If adopted by the House, it supersedes the original motion.
  3. Subsidiary Motion: It is a motion that, by itself, has no meaning and cannot state the decision of the House without reference to the original motion or proceedings of the House. It is divided into three sub-categories:

(a) Ancillary Motion: It is used as the regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business.

(b) Superseding Motion: It is moved in the course of debate on another issue and seeks to supersede that issue.

(c) Amendment: It seeks to modify or substitute only a part of the original motion.

Closure Motion It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the

House. If the motion is approved by the House, debate is stopped forthwith and the matter is put to

vote. There are four kinds of closure motions15:

(a) Simple Closure: It is one when a member moves that the ‘matter having been sufficiently discussed be now put to vote’.

(b) Closure by Compartments: In this case, the clauses of a bill or a lengthy resolution are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate. The debate covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.

(c) Kangaroo Closure: Under this type, only important clauses are taken up for debate and voting

and the intervening clauses are skipped over and taken as passed.

(d) Guillotine Closure: It is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolut-ion are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to want of time (as the time allotted for the discussion is over).

Privilege Motion It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister. It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.

Calling Attention Motion It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter. Like the zero hour, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

Table 22.2 Censure Motion vs No Confidence Motion

Censure Motion No-Confidence Motion

  1. It should state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha. 1. It need not state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
  2. It can be moved against an individual minister or a group of ministers or the entire council of ministers.
  3. It can be moved against the entire council of ministers only.
  4. It is moved for censuring the council of ministers for specific policies and actions.
  5. It is moved for ascertaining the confidence of LokSabha in the council of ministers.
  6. If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers need not resign from the office.
  7. If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers must resign from office.

Adjournment Motion It is introduced in the Parliament to draw attention of the House to a definite

matter of urgent public importance, and needs the support of 50 members to be admitted. As it

interrupts the normal business of the House, it is regarded as an extraordinary device. It involves an

element of censure against the government and hence Rajya Sabha is not permitted to make use of this

device. The discussion on an adjournment motion should last for not less than two hours and thirty

minutes. The right to move a motion for an adjournment of the business of the House is subject to the following


  1. It should raise a matter which is definite, factual, urgent and of public importance;
  2. It should not cover more than one matter;
  3. It should be restricted to a specific matter of recent occurrence and should not be framed in general terms;
  4. It should not raise a question of privilege;
  5. It should not revive discussion on a matter that has been discussed in the same session;
  6. It should not deal with any matter that is under adjudication by court; and
  7. It should not raise any question that can be raised on a distinct motion.

No-Confidence Motion Article 75 of the Constitution says that the council of ministers shall be

collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It means that the ministry stays in office so long as it enjoys

confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha. In other words, the Lok Sabha can

remove the ministry from office by passing a no-confidence motion. The motion needs the support of

50 members to be admitted.

Censure Motion A censure motion is different from a no-confidence motion as shown in Table 22.2.

Motion of Thanks The first session after each general election and the first session of every fiscal

year is addressed by the president. In this address, the president outlines the policies and programmes

of the government in the preceding year and ensuing year. This address of the president, which

corresponds to the ‘speech from the Throne in Britain’, is discussed in both the Houses of Parliament

on a motion called the ‘Motion of Thanks’. At the end of the discussion, the motion is put to vote. This

motion must be passed in the House. Otherwise, it amounts to the defeat of the government. This inaugural speech of the president is an occasion available to the members of Parliament to raise discussions and debates to examine and criticise the government and administration for its lapses and failures.

No-Day-Yet-Named Motion It is a motion that has been admitted by the Speaker but no date has

been fixed for its discussion. The Speaker, after considering the state of business in the House and in

consultation with the leader of the House or on the recommendation of the Business Advisory

Committee, allots a day or days or part of a day for the discussion of such a motion.

Point of Order

A member can raise a point of order when the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal

rules of procedure. A point of order should relate to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of

the House or such articles of the Constitution that regulate the business of the House and should raise

a question that is within the cognizance of the Speaker. It is usually raised by an opposition member

in order to control the government. It is an extraordinary device as it suspends the proceedings before

the House. No debate is allowed on a point of order.

Half-an-Hour Discussion

It is meant for discussing a matter of sufficient public importance, which has been subjected to a lot of

debate and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact. The Speaker can allot three

days in a week for such discussions. There is no formal motion or voting before the House.

Short Duration Discussion

It is also known as two-hour discussion as the time allotted for such a discussion should not exceed

two hours. The members of the Parliament can raise such discussions on a matter of urgent public

importance. The Speaker can allot two days in a week for such discussions. There is neither a formal

motion before the house nor voting. This device has been in existence since 1953.

Special Mention

A matter which is not a point of order or which cannot be raised during question hour, half-an hour

discussion, short duration discussion or under adjournment motion, calling attention notice or under

any rule of the House can be raised under the special mention in the Rajya Sabha. Its equivalent

procedural device in the Lok Sabha is known as ‘Notice (Mention) Under Rule 377’.


The members can move resolutions to draw the attention of the House or the government to matters of

general public interest. The discussion on a resolution is strictly relevant to and within the scope of

the resolution. A member who has moved a resolution or amendment to a resolution cannot withdraw

the same except by leave of the House.

Resolutions are classified into three categories:

  1. Private Member’s Resolution: It is one that is moved by a private member (other than a

minister). It is discussed only on alternate Fridays and in the afternoon sitting.

  1. Government Resolution: It is one that is moved by a minister. It can be taken up any day from

Monday to Thursday.

  1. Statutory Resolution: It can be moved either by a private member or a minister. It is so called because it is always tabled in pursuance of a provision in the Constitution or an Act of Parliament.

Resolutions are different from motions in the following respects:

“All resolutions come in the category of substantive motions, that is to say, every resolution is a

particular type of motion. All motions need not necessarily be substantive. Further, all motions

are not necessarily put to vote of the House, whereas all the resolutions are required to be voted


Youth Parliament

The scheme of Youth Parliament was started on the recommendation of the Fourth All India Whips

Conference. Its objectives are:

  1. to acquaint the younger generations with practices and procedures of Parliament;
  2. to imbibe the spirit of discipline and tolerance cultivating character in the minds of youth; and
  3. to inculcate in the student community the basic values of democracy and to enable them to

acquire a proper perspective on the functioning of democratic institutions. The ministry of parliamentary affairs provides necessary training and encouragement to the states in introducing the scheme.