What is petitioning?
Petitioning is a formal process that involves sending a written appeal to Parliament. The public can petition Parliament to make MPs aware of their opinion and/ or to request action.
Who petitions and how?
Anyone can petition Parliament. The only requirement is that petitions be submitted in the prescribed format, in either Hindi or English, and signed by the petitioner.
In the case of Lok Sabha, the petition is normally required to be countersigned by an MP. According to the Rules of Lok Sabha, “This practice is based on the principle that petitions are normally presented by members in their capacity as elected representatives of the people, and that they have to take full responsibility for the statements made therein and answer questions on them in the House, if any, are raised.”
Petitions can be sent to either House in respect of:
- Any Bills/ other matters that are pending before the House
- Any matter of general public interest relating to the work of the Central Government
The petition should not raise matters that are currently sub-judice or for which remedy is already available under an existing law of the Central Government.
Petition formats can be accessed at: Lok Sabha; Rajya Sabha
What happens to the petition once it has been submitted?
Once submitted, the petition may either be tabled in the House or presented by an MP on behalf of the petitioner. These are then examined by the Committee on Petitions.
The Committee may choose to circulate the petition and undertake consultations before presenting its report (For instance, the Petition praying for development of Railway network in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and other Himalayan States). It may also invite comments from the concerned Ministries. The recommendations of the Committee are then presented in the form of a report to the House.
Previous reports can be accessed at the relevant committee pages on the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha websites.