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In this article, Nawlendu Bhushan of Campus Law Centre discusses parliamentary motions.

Introduction

Any decision by the Parliament, be it on a legislative proposal or a policy, is taken after due consideration and voting. Also, the legislature expresses its opinion or seeks the attention of the government on matters of public importance. A group of orders is needed to facilitate discussion and decision-making involved in the Parliamentary processes. Robert’s Rules of Order is one of such orders. In India, parliamentary procedures are influenced by these rules. Both the houses of our Parliament have separate Rules for Procedures and Conduct of Business in the respective house. In the parlance of these Rules for Procedures, this article explains motions, its types and the features of the different type of motions.

What is a parliamentary motion?

The proper way for an individual to propose that the group take a certain action is by making a motion. [1] In the parliamentary parlance, a motion 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 judgment or will of the House. Any matter of importance can be the subject matter of a motion. The mover of the motion frames it in a way in which he/she wishes it to be ultimately passed by the house and on which a vote of the House can conveniently be taken. [2]

Motions bring new business to the House. It consists ofnumerous other proposals to take procedural steps or carry out other actions relating to a pending proposal (such as postponing it to another time) or to the assembly itself (such as taking a recess).[3]

Kinds of motions in a standard parliamentary procedures

Main Motions have for their object the bringing of questions or propositions before the assembly for consideration. Only one main motion can be considered at a given time by the assembly.

Subsidiary Motions have for their object the modification or disposition of the main motion being considered. It is in order to propose them while the main motion is still before the assembly, and to vote upon them before voting upon the main motion.

Privileged Motions have not connection whatsoever with the main motion before the assembly, but are motions of such importance that they are entitled to immediate consideration. The main business before the house may be temporarily set aside to address a privileged motion.

Incidental Motions arise “incidentally” out of the business of the assembly, and have very common characteristics.

General rules for parliamentary motions

As per Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Houses:-

  • No discussion on a matter of general public importance can take place except on a motion made with the consent of the Speaker/Chairman as the case may be.
  • Notice of motion must be given in writing addressed to the Secretary-General.
  • There are certain parameters for the admissibility of the motion.
  • The Chairman/Speaker decides the admissibility of the motions as per the parameters.
  • Motions on matters pending before tribunals or commissions are not admitted.
  • The Chairman/Speaker allots time for discussion on the matter raised in the motion.
  • On the allotted day the Chairman/Speaker may put every question necessary to determine the decision of the House on the original question.
  • The Speaker/Chairman may prescribe a time limit for speeches on the motion.

Types of motions in Indian Parliament

There are various types of motions which are as under:-

  • Privilege Motion
  • Censure Motion
  • Call-Attention Motion
  • Adjournment Motion
  • No-Day-Yet-Named Motion
  • Cut Motions
  • No Confidence Motion
  • Confidence Motion

Privilege motion

The Constitution grants certain powers, privileges and immunities to the Parliament, its members and committees. Such powers and privileges are regulated as per laws made by the House. [4]

According to Erskine May,  “Parliamentary privilege is the sum of certain rights enjoyed by each House collectively… and by members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions, and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals.”Breach of privilege is punishable under the Law of the Parliament.

A privilege motion is introduced by the opposition against a minister in case the minister has misled the House by providing false information. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.

A privilege motion can be moved against a non-member as well as a member.

Censure motion

Censure motion is moved by the opposition against a specific policy of the government or against a minister or against the whole council of ministers. It can be moved only in the lower house of the parliament. The motion should be specific and self-explanatory so as to record the reasons of the censure precisely and briefly.

No leave of the House is required to move a censure motion. If it is passed, the Council of Minister is bound to seek the confidence of the Lok Sabha as early as possible.

Call attention motion   

A member may, with the previous permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance by moving a motion. The Minister may make a brief statement or ask for time to make a statement at a later hour or date. The number of call-attention motion is restricted to two motions by one member in a single sitting.

Adjournment motion

A motion for an adjournment of the business of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance may be made with the consent of the Speaker. The Adjournment motion if admitted leads to setting aside the normal business of the House for discussing the matter mentioned in the motion.the motion shall be restricted to a specific matter of recent occurrence involving the responsibility of the Government of India.

No Day Yet Named motion

If the Speaker admits notice of a motion and no date is fixed for the discussion of such motion, it is called No-Day-Yet-Named motion. The Speaker may, 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 allot a day or days or part of a day for the discussion of any such motion.

Cut motions

Motions can be moved to reduce demand for grants. Such motions are called cut motions.  If a cut motion is adopted by Parliament and the government does not have the numbers, it is obliged to resign. There are three types of cut motions:-

Disapproval of Policy Cut is moved to reduce the amount of the demand to INR 1/-’ representing disapproval of the policy underlying the demand. A member giving notice of such a motion has to indicate in precise terms the particulars of the policy which the member proposes to discuss. The discussion shall be confined to the specific point or points mentioned in the notice and it shall be open to members to advocate an alternative

policy;

Economy Cut motion is moved to reduce the amount of the demand by a specified amount representing the economy that can be effected. Such specified amount may be either a lump sum reduction in the demand or omission or reduction of an item in the demand. The notice to move this motion indicates briefly and precisely the particular matter on which discussion is sought to be raised and speeches are confined to the discussion as to how economy can be effected;

Token Cut motion is moved to reduce the amount of the demand by INR 100/- in order to ventilate a specific grievance which is within the sphere of the responsibility of the Government of India. The discussion on this motion is confined to the particular grievance specified in the motion.

No Confidence motion

This motion is introduced in the Lok Sabha by the opposition. It is a motion expressing want of confidence in the Council of Ministers. No-confidence motions are subject to following restrictions, namely:—

(a) leave to make the motion shall be asked for by the member when called by the Speaker;

(b) the member asking for leave shall, that day give to the Secretary-General a written notice of the motion which such member proposes to move.

If the Speaker is of opinion that the motion is in order, he shall read the motion to the House and request those members who are in favour of leave being granted to rise in their places. At least fifty members are required to rise if the leave is to be granted. The motion has to be taken up within 10 days from the date on which leave is asked for. After the discussion, the Speaker puts every question necessary to determine the decision of the House on the motion. A Government can be dismissed by passing a direct vote on a no-confidence motion.

Confidence motion

It is also called “trust vote”. Confidence motions have evolved as a counter by the government when it wants to demonstrate its majority. There is no special provision in the rules for a confidence motion — such a motion is moved as an ordinary motion. In recent times, when no party has had a clear majority, the president has appointed a prime minister who he believed had the majority support. This person is expected to prove his majority through a confidence motion.[5]

If both, the motion for no-confidence and a motion for confidence are tabled, the speaker is to give precedence to government business and take the motion of confidence.

If the prime minister loses a motion of confidence, he is obliged to resign, and the president should try to identify another person who enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. Preparing for competition examinations? You can visit the video here for learning all the motions in one go.

References

[1]http://octsa.ua.edu/uploads/1/6/6/9/16699238/basics-of-parliamentary-procedures.pdf

[2]http://www.netapedia.in/blog/?p=86

[3]http://www.gkplanet.in/2017/06/types-of-motions-in-indian-parliament-proceedings-pdf.html

[4]Art 105, 194

[5]http://www.prsindia.org/media/articles-by-prs-team/rules-of-confidence-685/

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