As the Pegasus spyware snowballed into a massive political row in Parliament and outside, many Congress MPs sought adjournment motion in Lok Sabha while many MPs in Rajya Sabha sent notice under Rule 267 seeking suspension of rules to discuss the matter. Although 'adjournment' is the most commonly heard motion in common parlance, it is not the only such provision in the Constitution. There are many motions that the Parliament deal with some exclusively to Lok Sabha, and the rest shared with Rajya Sabha.
What is a motion in Parliament?
- A motion is a proposal made by a member to the House to elicit a specific action or order on a matter. The motion may also seek that the House express an opinion with regard to some matter.
- A motion must be phrased in such a way that, if passed, will explicitly lay out the judgment or opinion of the House on a matter in a simple yes or no.
- A matter requiring the decision of the House is decided by means of a question put by the Chairman/Speaker on a motion made by a member and resolved in the affirmative or negative, as the case may be.
- The process from the start to finish of a motion's life-cycle is as follows: A member rises to move the motion, the Chair/Speaker approves or disapproves it, if approved, the House takes up a debate. At the conclusion of the debate, the Chair poses the operative question, which is passed or rejected in a vote (generally by voice)
The primary object of an adjournment motion is to draw the attention of the House to a recent matter of urgent public importance having serious consequences and with regard to which a motion or a resolution with proper notice will be too late.
The matter proposed to be raised should be of such a character that something very grave which affects the whole country and its security has happened and the House is required to pay its attention immediately by interrupting the normal business of the House.
The adjournment motion is thus an extraordinary procedure which, if admitted, leads to setting aside the normal business of the House for discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.
An adjournment motion involves an element of censure against the government. In the event of an adjournment motion being adopted, the House automatically stands adjourned.
Adjournment Motions are governed by Rules 56—63 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and Direction 2 (vi) of Directions by the Speaker. Notice of an adjournment motion is required to be given before 10 am on the day on which the motion is proposed.
It needs the support of 50 members to be admitted. The discussion on this motion should last for not less than two hours and thirty minutes.
Article 75 of the Constitution says that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. In other words, the Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a no-confidence motion. The motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted. It can be moved only in Lok Sabha.
A motion of no-confidence can be moved against the Council of Ministers only, and not an individual MP. Notice for such a motion has to be given before 10 am on the day of sitting. A no-confidence motion is moved by an MP if according to him/her the government’s activities have not been satisfactory and the resignation of the government is demanded. A debate takes place only if 50 or more MPs rise in support of it. At the end of such a debate, the motion is put to vote.
It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister. It can be moved in Rajya Sabha as well as Lok Sabha.
Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook govern privilege.
It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof. The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House. Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.
Censure motion is moved against the Council of Ministers, a group of ministers, or an individual minister for the failure to perform duties. The censure motion is usually moved by the opposition party against the ruling party or any of its ministers for failing to act in certain matters. In the case of censure motion, reasons must be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha. It can be moved only in Lok Sabha.
The motions to reduce the amounts of demand for grants are called cut motions. The object of a cut motion is to draw the attention of the House to the matter specified therein. Cut motions can be classified into three categories:
a) Disapproval of Policy Cut: A cut motion which says “That the amount of the demand be reduced to Re 1” implies that the mover disapproves of the policy underlying the demand. The member giving notice of such a cut motion has to indicate in precise terms the particulars of the policy which he proposes to discuss. Discussion is confined to the specific point or points mentioned in the notice and it is open to the member to advocate an alternative policy.
b) Economy Cut: Where the object of the motion is to affect the economy in the expenditure, the form of the motion is “That the amount of the demand be reduced by Rs...(a
specified amount)”. The amount suggested for reduction may be either a lump-sum reduction in the demand or omission or reduction of an item in the demand.
c) Token Cut: Where the object of the motion is to ventilate a specific grievance within the sphere of responsibility of the Government of India, its form is: “That the amount of the demand be reduced by Rs 100”.
A substantive motion is a self-contained proposal made in reference to a subject that the mover wishes to bring forward. Motions for the election of the Deputy Chairman, Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address and Motion to declare the seat of a member vacant where leave of absence has not been granted are examples of substantive motions moved in the Rajya Sabha.
The conduct of persons in high authority can only be discussed on a substantive motion drawn in proper terms.
The Constitution lays down a specific procedure for the impeachment of the President and for the presentation of an address to the President by each House of Parliament for the removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, or the Chief Election Commissioner. Provision has been made in the Constitution for the removal of the Vice-President and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha by means of resolutions.
A subsidiary motion relates to a substantive motion and is made use of to enable the House to dispose of it in the most appropriate manner. They by themselves have no meaning and are not capable of stating the decision of the House without reference to the original motion or proceedings of the House. Subsidiary motions have the effect of hastening action upon, delaying action upon, or modifying the main motion. The patterns are given below:
a) Lay on the table: Lays a pending question aside temporarily when something more urgent has arisen. "I move to lay the question on the table" or "I move that the motion be laid on the table."
b) Previous question: Ends debate and orders an immediate vote. "I move the previous question" or "I move we vote immediately on the motion."
c) Limit or extend debate: Modifies debate by limiting or extending the number or length of speeches. "I move that debate be limited to one speech of two minutes for each member" or "I move that the speaker's time be extended three minutes."
d) Postpone to a certain time: Defers consideration to a definite day, meeting, or hour, or until after some particular event. "I move that the question be postponed until the next meeting" or "I move to postpone the motion until after the address by our guest speaker."
e) Refer to a committee: Gives a motion more detailed attention or permits it to be handled in privacy. "I move to refer the matter to the Program Committee."
Subsidiary motions are further divided into:
a) Ancillary Motions -- It is used as the regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business
b) Superseding Motions -- It is moved in the course of the debate on another issue and seeks to supersede that issue
c) Amendments -- It seeks to modify or substitute only a part of the original motion
Motions moved in substitution of the original motion for taking into consideration a policy or situation or statement or any other matter are called substitute motions. Such motions, though drafted in such a way as to be capable of expressing an opinion by themselves are not, strictly speaking, substantive motions in as much as they depend upon the original motion.
If the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha admits notice of a motion and no date is fixed for its discussion, it is notified in the Bulletin with the heading “No-Day-YetNamed Motion.” In every session, a number of motions are admitted and published in the Bulletin Part II under the heading ‘No-Day-Yet-Named Motion’ which reflects diverse views and focuses attention on various issues of public importance in the country.
A dilatory motion is a generic name for motions the object of which is to put off further consideration of the business in hand for the time being. If the Chairman thinks that a dilatory motion is an abuse of the rules of the House, he may either refuse to accept the motion or accept it and put the question on it forthwith, i.e., without allowing it to be debated.
A dilatory motion is intended to have a postponing or indefinitely delaying effect on a debate. A dilatory motion is a superseding motion because if it is accepted by the Chair he proposes the motion as a new question, which supersedes the original question and must be disposed of before the debate on the original question can be resumed.
Like private members, ministers also move motions on matters of general public interest. These are called government motions.
Motions tabled in pursuance of a provision in the Constitution or an Act of Parliament are termed statutory motions. Notice of such a motion may be given either by a Minister or a private member. The typical statutory motions which are moved frequently by ministers relate to the elections of members of the House to various statutory bodies.
Calling Attention Motion
It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter. It can be moved in Rajya Sabha as well as Lok Sabha. Like the zero hours, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hours, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.
It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the House. If the motion is approved by the House, the debate is stopped forthwith and the matter is put to vote. There are four kinds of closure motions. They are:
a) Simple Closure: It is one when a member moves that the ‘matter has been sufficiently discussed be now put to vote.
(b) Closure by Compartments: In this case, the clauses of a bill or a lengthy resolution are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate. The debate covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.
(c) Kangaroo Closure: Under this type, only important clauses are taken up for debate and voting and the intervening clauses are skipped over and taken as passed.
(d) Guillotine Closure: It is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolution are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to wanting of time (as the time allotted for the discussion is over.