Sessions of Parliament – UPSC Prelims

Sessions of Parliament
A session of the Indian Parliament is the period during which a House meets almost every day uninterruptedly to manage the business. There are typically three sessions in a year. A session contains many meetings.
  • 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.
  • India does not have a fixed parliamentary calendar. By convention (i.e. not provided by the Constitution), Parliament meets for three sessions in a year.
  • Summoning is the process of calling all members of the Parliament to meet.
  • The President summons each House of the Parliament from time to time.
  • The gap between two sessions of the Parliament cannot exceed 6 months, which means the Parliament meets at least two times in one year.
In general, the sessions are as follows:
  • Budget session (February to May)
  • Monsoon session (July to September)
  • Winter session (November to December)
Budget Session
  • The budget session is held in February to May every year.
  • It is considered to be a highly crucial session of the Parliament.
  • The Budget is usually presented on the last working day of the month of February.
  • Here, the members discuss the various provisions of the budget and matters concerning taxation, after the Finance Minister presents the budget.
  • The budget session is generally split into two periods with a gap of one month between them.
  • This session every year starts with the President’s Address to both Houses.
Monsoon Session
  • The monsoon session is held in July to September every year.
  • This is after a break of two months after the budget session.
  • In this session, matters of public interest are discussed.
Winter Session
  • The winter session of Parliament is held in mid-November to mid-December every year.
  • It is the shortest session of all.
  • It takes up the matters that could not be considered upon earlier and makes up for the absence of legislative business during the second session of the Parliament.
Joint Session of Parliament
  • The Constitution of India provides for the joint sitting of the Parliament’s two Houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, in order to break any deadlock between the two.
  • The joint sitting of the Parliament is called by the country’s President.
  • Such a session is presided over by the Speaker, and in his/her absence, by the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha. In the absence of both, it is presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • If any of the above are not present, any other member of the Parliament can preside by consensus of both the Houses.
  • Article 108 of the Constitution talks about a joint Parliament session.
When is a Joint Session called?
If a bill is passed by one House and passed on to the other and –
  1. The other House rejects the bill.
  2. The Houses disagree on the amendments made to the bill.
  3. If 6 months have passed since the passing of the bill by one House and the bill has been received by the other House without it being passed (the President cannot summon a joint sitting if the bill was not passed because of the dissolution of the Lok Sabha). Also, in calculating the 6 months, days, when House was prorogued or adjourned for more than 4 consecutive days, are not counted.
Exceptions to Joint Sittings
  1. Money Bills: Money bills do not require the approval of the Rajya Sabha. Only Lok Sabha needs to pass it. Even if the Upper House does not pass a money bill within 14 days, it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses of Parliament after the expiry of the above period. So, there is no case for a joint sitting in the case of a money bill.
  2. Constitution Amendment Bills: According to Article 368, the constitution of India can be amended by both the Houses by a 2/3rd majority. In case of a disagreement between both the houses, there is no provision for a joint session of Parliament.
How long does a parliament session last?
The budget and the monsoon sessions last for about 4 and 3 months, respectively. The winter session lasts for about one month only.
Who has the power to summon and prorogue the sessions of Parliament?
The President has this power.
What is the adjournment of Parliament?
  • Adjournment terminates the sitting of the House which meets again at the time appointed for the next sitting.
  • The postponement may be for a specified time such as hours, days or weeks.
  • If the meeting is terminated without any definite time/ date fixed for the next meeting, it is called Adjournment sine die.
What is Prorogation?
  • A prorogation puts an end to a session.
  • The time between the Prorogation and reassembly is called Recess.
  • Prorogation is the end of session and not the dissolution of the house (in case of Lok Sabha, as Rajya Sabha does not dissolve).
What is Quorum?
  • Quorum refers to the minimum number of the members required to be present for conducting a meeting of the house.
  • The Constitution has fixed one-tenth strength as quorum for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Thus, to conduct a sitting of Lok Sabha, there should be at least 55 members present while to conduct a sitting of Rajya Sabha, there should be at least 25 members present.
Who presides over a joint session of Parliament?
The Speaker presides over a joint session. In his absence, the Deputy Speaker, and in his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
How many sessions are there in Parliament?
There are three sessions in Parliament.
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