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Mechanism of voting and recording of votes in Parliament

December 24th, 2010 7 comments

The convention for passing Bills in the Parliament is by orally communicating agreement or disagreement with the proposed motion (whether a Bill should be passed or not, for example). When a motion is put to vote the speaker says, ‘Those in the favour of the motion say Aye and those opposing it say No.’ According to the voice vote, the Speaker decides whether the Bill is accepted or negated by the House.

If a member is not happy with a voice vote, it can be challenged and a division can be asked for. The procedure for division entails the Speaker to announce for the lobbies of Parliament to be cleared. Then the division bell rings continuously for three and a half minutes and so do many connected bells all through Parliament House and Parliament House Annexe. MPs come from all sides into the chamber and the doors are closed. The votes are recorded by the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment.

For example, in the Winter Session of the Parliament, four appropriation bills (financial Bills) were passed by voice vote amidst the interruptions from the opposition and two bills i.e. The Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010 and The Constitution (One Hundred and Thirteenth Amendment) Bill, 2010 (Amendment of Eighth Schedule) were passed through division. For these Bills the voting took place together. The votes recorded were: 298 ayes and 0 noes.

Can Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) summon ministers?

December 21st, 2010 No comments

One of our earlier posts (read here) tackled the question of whether the Public Accounts Committee could summon ministers or not. According to a direction of the speaker, a Minister cannot be summoned by a financial committee.

There are no specific procedures for the Joint Parliamentary Committees mentioned in the rules. However, according to the Directions by the Speaker general rules applicable to Committees shall apply to all Committees, though specific directions can be given for some committees (read here).  In other words, the general directions for all committees would be the same, unless a specific direction was given relating to a particular committee.

In the Joint Committee of Stock Market Scam and Matters relating there to, a specific request was made to the Speaker, Lok Sabha by the Chairman, JPC on 20th May, 2002 for permitting the Committee to call for written information on certain points from the Minister of Finance and Minister of External Affairs. The Speaker accorded the necessary permission on 1st June, 2002.

Consequently, the Minister of Finance (Shri Jaswant Singh), the Minister of External Affairs (Shri Yashwant Sinha) and the former Finance and External Affairs ministers (Shri P. Chidambaram and Dr. Manmohan Singh respectively) testified before the Committee. Read the text of the report here.

How many reports has PAC tabled since 1952?

December 20th, 2010 1 comment
Around 1400 reports have been tabled by the PAC since the first Lok Sabha till end of 14th Lok Sabha.

In terms of absolute numbers, the largest number of reports were tabled during the 5th Lok Sabha (1971-77).  However, in terms of the average number of reports presented in the duration of a single Lok Sabha, the 6th Lok Sabha is the highest.

The fewest number of PAC reports were tabled during the 1st Lok Sabha (25 reports over all and 5 reports on an average per year).



Can Ministers be summoned by Public Accounts Committee?

December 16th, 2010 No comments

The Public Accounts Committee  examines how the Government spends public money. It examines the amount granted by the Parliament and the amount actually spent.

A Speaker in the past, has passed a direction which specifies clearly that a Minister cannot be summoned by the Financial Committees.  This has been incorporated in a document titled “Directions by the Speaker” available here.

The actual text of the direction reads –

“99. (1) The Committee on Estimates or the Committee on Public Accounts or the Committee on Public Undertakings may call officials to give evidence in connection with the examination of the estimates and accounts, respectively, relating to a particular Ministry or Undertaking. But a Minister shall not be called before the Committee either to give evidence or for consultation in connection with the examination of estimates or accounts by the Committee.”

Co-authored by Chakshu

How many times has the PAC met since 2002?

December 15th, 2010 1 comment

Between 2002-06 the average number of sitting per year (May – April) was around 19 but since 2006 the average has dipped to around 11 sittings per year. The average number of committee sittings is around 15 per year from 2002-10. The committee met 22 times in 2002-03 while it only met 5 times in 2007-08.

The average duration per sitting has been more or less equal since 2002. The committee has been spending 1 hour 20 minutes on an average on each sitting.

* Data rounded off to nearest hour

* Data calculated from May to April every year.

* Data taken from the Public Accounts Committee Website & PRS.