From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Types of questions
Mains level : Parliamentary scrutiny
Over the last few sessions of Parliament, MPs mainly from the Opposition have often alleged that their questions have been intentionally disallowed.
What are the categories of Questions?
(1) Starred Question
- The member desires an oral answer from the minister.
- Such a question is distinguished by the MP with an asterisk.
- The answer can also be followed by supplementary questions from members.
(2) Unstarred Question
- The MP seeks a written answer, which is deemed to be laid on the table of the House by the concerned minister.
(3) Short Notice Question
- These are on an urgent matter of public importance, and an oral answer is sought.
- A notice of less than 10 days is prescribed as the minimum period for asking such a question.
(4) Question to a Private Member
- A question can be addressed to a private member under Rule 40 of Lok Sabha’s Rules of Procedure, or under Rule 48 of Rajya Sabha’s Rules.
- Such question deals with a subject relating to some Bill, resolution or other matter for which that member is responsible.
When are the questions asked?
Ans. Question Hour
- In both Houses, the first hour of every sitting is usually devoted to asking and answering of questions, and this is referred to as the ‘Question Hour’.
- The total number of questions for any day is limited to 175.
- These includes 15 questions for oral answers, questions postponed from one list to another for written answers, and 15 questions pertaining to states under President’s Rule.
How are questions admitted?
- In both Houses, elected members enjoy the right to seek information from various ministries and departments in the form of questions.
- The Rajya Sabha Chairman or the Lok Sabha Speaker has the authority to decide whether a question or a part is or is not admissible under the norms of the House, and disallow any question or a part.
- Usually, MPs’ questions form a long list, which then go through a rigorous process of clearance.
- Once a question that fulfils the conditions of admissibility is received, the Secretariat sends it to the ministry concerned.
- Once the facts are received from the ministry, the question is further examined for admissibility.
- A final list of questions is circulated to ministers, on the basis of which they frame their answers.
Answering the Questions
- For answering the questions, ministries and departments have been divided into five groups (I to V) that have been allotted Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays respectively.
- The grouping has been done in such a way that each minister has one fixed day in the week for answering questions in Rajya Sabha and another fixed day for answering questions in Lok Sabha.
What kind of questions can be asked?
(A) Rajya Sabha
- The question shall be pointed, specific and confined to one issue only
- It shall not bring in any name or statement not strictly necessary to make the question intelligible
- If it contains a statement the member shall make himself responsible for the accuracy of the statement
- It shall not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations, epithets or defamatory statements
(B) Lok Sabha
Questions that are not admitted include:
- Those that are repetitive or have been answered previously and
- Matters that are pending for judgment before any court of law or under consideration before a Parliamentary Committee