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Government to prorogue parliament after March 20 to push land ordinance.

Indian Parliament. Image courtesy: Google

The government is set to prorogue parliament after March 20 to facilitate re-promulgation of the land ordinance, as land acquisition ordinance set to lapse on April 5 and the bill has not yet passed by Rajya Sabha (Council of States).

What is prorogation?

  • Prorogation means the termination of a session of the House by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution. Usually, prorogation follows the adjournment of the sitting of the House sine die (without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing). 
  • On the prorogation of the House, all pending notices, other than notices of intention to move for leave to introduce a Bill, shall lapse and fresh notices shall be given for the next session.

How Prorogation is different than Adjournment and Dissolution?

  • An adjournment terminates the sitting of the House which meets again at the time appointed for the next sitting. An adjournment also signifies brief break of the sitting of the House which re-assembles at the appointed time on the same day.
  • Dissolution of the House means the end of the life of the Lok Sabha (House of Representatives) either by an order made by the President under article 85 (2) (b) of the Constitution or on the expiration of the period of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.

What is Article 85 of Constitution of India?

Sessions of Parliament, prorogation and dissolution:

(1) The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.

(2) The President may from time to time – (a) prorogue the Houses or either House;(b) dissolve the House of the People.

Procedure for proroguing the house?

  • After the adjournment of Lok Sabha sine die, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (or the Leader of the House, as the case may be) sends a communication to the Secretary-General conveying the intention of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet to prorogue the House.
  • The proposal of the Prime Minister, after being agreed to by the Speaker, is submitted to the President by the Secretary-General.
  • After the President has made the order  it is notified in the Gazette Extraordinary of the day on which the order is received in the Secretariat. Simultaneously, a paragraph is issued in the Bulletin informing the members of the prorogation of Lok Sabha.
  • Besides, a press communique is also issued. All India Radio and Doordarshan/L.S.T.V. Channel are also asked to broadcast/telecast the news. 

How proroguing the House will help government?

  • The land ordinance was promulgated on December 31, 2014. 
  • Art. 123 gives President the power to legislate through an ordinance if either of the house is not in session and however immediate action is required on the matter. An ordinance has a life of 6 months. It must be laid before Parliament when it reassembles, and Parliament must approve it within 6 weeks of the date of its reassembly, after which the ordinance ceases to have effect (though the period of 6 month is not over).
  • The Budget session began on February 23, 2015. The six weeks from the day of the first sitting end on April 5, thus the ordinance stands lapsed after that. 
  • As per the original schedule of the Budget session, Parliament was to meet from February 23 to March 20, and take a break from March 21 to April 19. It is supposed to reassemble for the rest of the session on April 20, which is to conclude on May 8. 
  • By proroguing one or both Houses on March 20, the government will terminate the sitting before the six weeks from February 23 run out on April 5, and give itself space to repromulgate the ordinance, which will then have a fresh six-month life.
  • Land Bill has already passed by Lok Sabha. Since the Opposition is opposing the land bill, it is unlikely to be passed in Rajya Sabha before April 5. Thus, government is believed to be relying on several precedents for prorogation of Parliament under similar circumstances. 

Interesting facts related to prorogation:

  • In D C Wadhwa case v State of Bihar (1987), Supreme court hold that successive repromulgation of Ordinances with the same text by the Governor of Bihar, without any attempt to get the bills passed by the state assembly while it was in session, coupled with the habitual practice of proroguing the Assembly merely in order to enable the Governor to repromulgate an Ordinance in a routine manner would be a fraud on the Constitution, the Ordinance so repromulgated is liable to be struck down. 
  • The Haryana Legislative Assembly was prorogued on 28 February 1970, the Assembly having been adjourned sine die the previous day on a motion moved by the Chief Minister and carried by the House. The notice for adjourning the House sine die was received by the Speaker on 27 February at about 12.15 hours. On the same day, after 13.00 hours, the Speaker received a notice for motion of no-confidence in the Council of Ministers which was admitted by him, and discussion thereon was fixed for 3 March. The ‘constitutional aspect of the question of prorogation when a motion of no-confidence in the Council of Ministers having been admitted was pending in the House’ was discussed in Lok Sabha on 2 and 4 March, 1970. Intervening in the debate, the Union Home Minister said that it was the Governor’s constitutional duty to accept the advice of the Chief Minister to prorogue the House, and the Chief Minister had demonstrated on his motion for adjournment, that the House was with him.
  • The Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly was prorogued on 12 March 1969, by the Governor on the advice of the outgoing Chief Minister who had resigned on 10 March owing to the reported differences among the constituents of the ruling SVD. When the matter was raised in Lok Sabha, the Union Home Minister reiterated the position that “once the Chief Minister gives an advice for prorogation, the Governor is bound to accept it.”
  • The Third Session of the Fifth Goa Legislative Assembly was scheduled to be held from 10 January to 18 January 2008. Meanwhile the Goa Government faced a crisis as it was reduced to a minority when three M.L.As. withdrew their support to the Government. However, the Chief Minister survived the crisis as the Governor prorogued the Assembly on the same day, i.e. on the first day of the Session thus avoiding the floor test demanded by the Opposition.

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