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SESSIONS OF PARLIAMENT

This article is written by Parvathy Prasannan, final year B. Com LLB student of School of Legal Studies, CUSAT during her internship at LeDroit India.

Keywords

Parliamentary sessions, legislative process, government, Budget Session, Monsoon Session, Winter Session, debate, bills, democracy, governance, policymaking, parliamentary procedures.

Abstract

Parliament sessions in India are integral to the country’s democratic framework, serving as the cornerstone of legislative activity and governance. These sessions, conducted at the national and state levels, provide a platform for elected representatives to deliberate, legislate, and hold the government accountable.

At the national level, India’s Parliament comprises two houses: the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The sessions, typically held in three parts – the Budget Session, Monsoon Session, and Winter Session – play a vital role in shaping the nation’s policies and laws. During these gatherings, parliamentarians discuss a wide array of issues, ranging from economic policies and social reforms to national security and international relations.

In summary, parliament sessions in India are the crucible of democracy, where elected representatives converge to deliberate, debate, and decide on issues of national and regional significance, ultimately shaping the nation’s trajectory and governance. These sessions underscore the essence of democracy and the importance of dialogue in shaping India’s dynamic political landscape. In this article, we will delve into the details of these sessions, exploring their key features, functions, and the role they play in the democratic process with a particular focus on the Budget session, Monsoon session, and Winter session.

What Are Parliamentary Sessions?

The Indian Parliament, often referred to as the ‘Temple of Democracy,’ is the supreme legislative body responsible for framing laws, scrutinizing the government’s actions, and representing the diverse voices of the Indian populace. Its functioning is structured around sessions, each of which typically lasts for a specific period. Parliamentary sessions refer to the scheduled periods during which a nation’s legislature convenes to perform its primary functions, including debating and passing laws, discussing policies, scrutinizing government actions, and representing the interests of the public. These sessions are the backbone of any parliamentary democracy, providing a platform for the nation’s elected representatives to fulfill their constitutional duties.

The power to convene a session of Parliament rests with the government. The decision is taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which currently comprises nine ministers, including those for Defense, Home, Finance, and Law. The decision of the Committee is formalized by the President, in whose name MPs are summoned to meet for a session.

The idea of parliamentary sessions in India can be traced back to the colonial period when the British established the Indian Legislative Council in 1853. The Council held annual sessions, and this practice continued even after India gained independence in 1947. The Constituent Assembly of India, tasked with framing the nation’s constitution, also operated in sessions, setting a precedent for the future parliamentary system.

Functions of Parliamentary Sessions

Parliamentary sessions serve various essential functions within a democratic system. Understanding their significance is key to appreciating their role in governance:

  1. Legislation

One of the fundamental functions of parliamentary sessions is the creation and passage of legislation. Members of parliament (MPs) propose bills, and these are debated, amended, and eventually voted on during sessions. The resulting laws shape the legal framework of the country, covering a wide range of issues from taxation to healthcare and education.

  • Oversight

Parliamentary sessions play a crucial role in holding the executive branch accountable for its actions. Through question sessions, debates, and committee inquiries, parliamentarians scrutinize the government’s policies and decisions. This oversight function ensures that the government operates in the best interests of the people.

  • Representation

Sessions are the forum where MPs voice the concerns and aspirations of their constituents. They use these opportunities to advocate for policies that address the needs of their communities. By doing so, they ensure that the diverse voices of the nation are heard and considered in the legislative process.

  • Budget Approval

In many parliamentary systems, the annual budget is a key component of the legislative agenda. During sessions, parliamentarians review and approve the government’s budget proposal, allocating funds to various sectors and projects. This process is essential for the functioning of the state and the delivery of public services.

The Budget Session

The Budget Session is perhaps the most significant of the three parliamentary sessions in India. It is so named because its primary focus is the presentation, discussion, and approval of the annual budget. This session typically spans several weeks and is divided into two parts:

  1. First Part: It typically begins in late January or early February and continues until late March or early April. During this period, the government presents the budget, and both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) debate and discuss its various aspects.
  2. Second Part: After a recess, the session resumes to pass the budget and other related financial bills. This part often lasts for a few weeks.

Budget Presentation: The budget session starts with the presentation of the Union Budget by the Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. The budget outlines the government’s revenue and expenditure plans, tax proposals, and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. It includes estimates for various sectors like education, healthcare, infrastructure, defense, and more.

General Discussion: Following the budget presentation, there is a general discussion in both houses of Parliament. Members of Parliament (MPs) from various political parties analyze and debate the budget’s provisions, offering their insights and suggestions. The Finance Minister responds to these discussions.

Passing of the Budget: The budget and related financial bills must be approved by both houses of Parliament. This process involves detailed scrutiny, debates, and voting. In India, the Lok Sabha, being the directly elected house, has the final say on financial matters. Once the Lok Sabha approves the budget, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha for consideration.

President’s Approval: After passing through both houses of Parliament, the budget is sent to the President of India for their formal approval. Once the President gives their assent, the budget becomes law, and the government can implement its financial plans for the fiscal year.

Budget Documents: Along with the budget speech, the government also presents detailed budget documents that contain information on revenue and expenditure, fiscal deficit, allocation to various ministries and departments, and tax proposals. These documents provide transparency and allow for a thorough examination of the government’s financial plans.

Importance: The budget session is significant because it sets the financial roadmap for the government for the upcoming year. It reflects the government’s policy priorities, allocation of resources, and taxation policies, impacting various sectors and the overall economy. The budget session is also an opportunity for the opposition parties to scrutinize and hold the government accountable for its financial decisions.

In summary, budget sessions in India are parliamentary sessions during which the government presents its annual budget, and the budget is debated, discussed, and eventually approved by both houses of Parliament. These sessions are crucial for the functioning of the government and have a significant impact on the country’s fiscal policies and economic development.

Monsoon session

The Monsoon Session typically takes place from July to August. It is called the Monsoon Session because it coincides with the monsoon season in India. The specific dates for the monsoon session are determined by the government, and they can vary from year to year. During this session, various bills and important legislative work are undertaken, and discussions on pressing national issues occur.

Some key features and aspects of the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament:

Duration: The monsoon session usually lasts for a few weeks, depending on the legislative agenda and the priorities of the government. It can extend into July and August.

Purpose: The primary purpose of the monsoon session is to consider and pass important bills and legislative measures. It provides an opportunity for Members of Parliament (MPs) to debate and discuss various issues of national importance.

Agenda: The government presents its legislative agenda for the session, which includes bills it wants to introduce, debate, and pass. The President of India’s address to a joint sitting of both houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) marks the beginning of the session and outlines the government’s policies and priorities.

Debates and Discussions: During the monsoon session, both houses of Parliament conduct debates and discussions on various subjects, including the budget, economic policies, and matters of public interest. MPs can raise questions, participate in debates, and express their views on these issues.

Passage of Bills: One of the primary functions of the monsoon session is to pass bills, which can be related to finance, governance, social issues, or any other area requiring legislation. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha must both approve a bill before it becomes law.

Committees: Parliamentary committees play a crucial role in examining and scrutinizing government policies and actions. These committees meet during the monsoon session to review specific issues and provide recommendations.

Adjournments and Interruptions: Sometimes, disruptions and adjournments due to protests, disagreements, or other issues can affect the smooth functioning of the session. These disruptions can lead to lost legislative time.

Question Hour: In the monsoon session, MPs can pose questions to government ministers during the Question Hour, seeking clarifications on various matters.

Importance: The monsoon session is significant because it allows the government to secure approval for its legislative agenda, and it provides a platform for MPs to hold the government accountable and address issues concerning their constituents.

Overall, the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament is a vital part of the country’s democratic process, as it allows for the passage of important legislation, debates on critical issues, and the scrutiny of government actions by elected representatives. It plays a pivotal role in shaping India’s legislative landscape and addressing the nation’s challenges and priorities.

Winter session

In the Indian Parliament, the winter session is one of the three regular sessions held each year to conduct parliamentary business. The winter session typically takes place from November to December, although the exact dates can vary from year to year based on the government’s schedule and priorities.

Here are some key points to understand about the winter session of the Indian Parliament:

Schedule: The winter session is usually held towards the end of the year, allowing Members of Parliament (MPs) to discuss and deliberate on important legislative matters, bills, and other issues.

Duration: The duration of the winter session varies from year to year and depends on the government’s agenda and the number of bills and topics to be discussed. It can last for several weeks.

Agenda: During the winter session, both houses of Parliament, i.e., the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), convene to address various legislative matters. The government presents its legislative agenda, including bills it intends to introduce and pass during the session.

Key Functions: The winter session serves several important functions:

  1. Passage of Bills: The government introduces new bills, and existing bills are debated, amended, and voted upon during the session.
  2. Question Hour: MPs can raise questions on various issues, and government ministers provide answers and clarifications.
  3. Discussions and Debates: MPs engage in discussions and debates on pressing national and international issues, policies, and government actions.
  4. Committee Work: Parliamentary committees may meet during the session to review and scrutinize specific matters in detail.
  5. Budgetary Matters: While the primary budget session is held in February-March, some budget-related discussions and approvals may also take place during the winter session.

Importance: The winter session is crucial for the functioning of the Indian Parliament as it allows for the passage of important legislation and the government’s accountability through questioning and debate.

Prorogation: At the end of the winter session, the Parliament is usually prorogued, which means that the current session is formally closed, and the next session’s dates are announced.

It’s important to note that the timing and proceedings of the winter session can be influenced by various factors, including political considerations, the government’s priorities, and the need to address urgent issues facing the nation. As such, each winter session may have its unique agenda and challenges.

Conclusion

The sessions of Parliament in India are the cornerstone of the country’s democratic system. They provide a platform for elected representatives to engage in vital legislative work, hold the government accountable, and shape policies that impact the lives of millions. The Budget Session, Monsoon Session, and Winter Session are integral parts of this system, each with its unique role and significance. While the Budget Session primarily focuses on the financial aspect of governance, the Monsoon Session emphasizes legislative work, and the Winter Session addresses pending bills and urgent matters. Together, these sessions ensure that the government remains accountable, policies are debated, and laws are enacted or amended to reflect the changing needs of the nation.

As the cornerstone of democratic governance, parliamentary sessions provide a platform for elected representatives to fulfill their duty of representing the interests of the people. These sessions exemplify the essence of democracy, where transparency, accountability, and debate are essential components of effective governance.

Reference

  1. “Explained: A look at how and when Parliament is convened” PRS Legislative Research

URL: https://prsindia.org/articles-by-prs-team/explained-a-look-at-how-and-when-parliament-is-convened

  • “Special Parliament session in September: How are these sittings called?” INDIA TODAY

URL: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/special-parliament-session-in-september-how-are-these-sittings-called-2429202-2023-08-31

  • “Parliament Sessions” Drishti IAS

URL: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-news-analysis/parliament-sessions-1

  • “Budget Session of Parliament.” Press Information Bureau, Government of India.

URL: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1694801

  • “The Parliament of India Under Indian Constitution” iPleaders

URL: https://blog.ipleaders.in/the-parliament/

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