The Constituent Assembly of India was elected to draft the Constitution of India. Subsequent to India's independence from Britain in 1947, its members served as the country’s first Parliament. The Parliament of India is the leading legislative body of the Indian Republic. It is a bicameral legislature comprising of the President of India and the two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (Lower House).
Sessions of the Parliament
A session of the Indian Parliament is the tenure during which a House meets almost every day without any interruption to manage the business. There are three sessions in a year. A session constitutes many meetings. The process of calling all the members of the Parliament to meet is known as Summoning of Parliament. It is the President who summons Parliament. Generally, the sessions are as follows:
Budget Session (February to May):
- The budget session is held from February to May every year & it is considered to be the most important session of the Parliament.
- The Budget is generally presented on the last working day of the month of February and the members discuss several provisions of the budget and provisions concerning taxation after the Finance Minister presents the budget.
- The budget session is usually split into two periods with a gap of one month between them. This session every year commences with the President’s address to both Houses.
Monsoon Session (July to September):
- The monsoon session is held generally from July to September every year.
- This is after a break of two months after the budget session.
- In this session, all matters of public interest are discussed.
Winter Session (December to January):
- The winter session of Parliament is held from mid- November or mid- December to January every year. It is the shortest session of all other sessions.
- 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 deliberates the joint sitting of the Parliament’s two Houses, 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 case of his/her absence, by the Deputy Speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha). In the absence of both, it is presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
- In case 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 Indian Constitution talks about a joint Parliament session.
Monsoon Session During Pandemic
Parliament is completely prepared for the 18-day Monsoon Session. The fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha and 252nd session of Rajya Sabha has been scheduled. The Monsoon Session had commenced on 14 September 2020 and will last up to October 1 without any holiday in between. Currently, over 4,000 people including MPs and staff have been tested for Covid-19 therefore, most parliamentary operations had been digitalized. The monsoon session that will be the first since the coronavirus lockdown was declared in March, had started, adding that proceedings of both Houses would take place without leaving even on Saturdays and Sundays.
Each house would sit for four hours per day with one session in the morning and the other in the afternoon. This shall provide for a total of 18 sittings across the monsoon session. Parliament will function on weekends to ensure that MPs do not get back to their constituencies amidst the COVID- 19 pandemic and either get infected themselves or bring the virus back with them.
Among several measures and restrictions to be imposed to guard against the COVID-19 threat. This Monsoon Session will witness Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha in different sittings and special sitting guidelines had been adhered to. Opposition parties have sought a discussion in Lok Sabha on the issues of unemployment, Indo- China Ladakh Standoff, economic slowdown as major agendas of the monsoon session. The DMK leader also stated that he has also sought a discussion on the problem of the creamy layer for OBC and non- payment of the State’s share of revenue collected under GST.
No Question Hour during monsoon Session
The Congress and other opposition parties will oppose four of the eleven legislations that the government wishes to bring in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. The opposition is opposing three agriculture-based legislations and the amendment to the Banking Regulation Act plus there will be no Question Hour and private member bills and it had also curtailed Zero hour, these two ‘hours’ are also the most crucial aspects of Parliament functioning. They are similar in some aspects and distinct in others. The decision to go without “Question Hour” during the Monsoon Session of Parliament has evoked major concerns about the democratic functioning of the institution.
During Question Hour, the Ruling party as well as the opposition pose tough questions to their colleagues who are the ministers say for example; the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Labour, Finance, Housing, Youth Affairs, and Sports were answering questions posed by Lok Sabha MPs whereas in Zero Hour, on the other hand, is not elucidated in the rule book and is an Indian parliamentary innovation.
No temporary or session pass holding-reporters will be permitted, and even journalists and ex-MPs will not be permitted in the central hall when sessions are on to ensure safety during COVID- 19 Pandemic. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV will live telecast proceedings, as well as being responsible for coverage on the display screens in the chambers and galleries. Sittings of both houses have been suspended since March, days prior to the announcement made by PM Modi of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.