Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is Division Voting?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Division vote

Mains level : Not Much

Parliament saw the first instance of division voting in times of the pandemic, with Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020 passed in Rajya Sabha as members voted through slips in view of social distancing norms in place.

What is the news?

  • The Bill provides for the regulation of major ports and will replace the Major Port Trusts Act of 1963, and a board of Major Port Authority for each major port will replace the current port trusts.
  • The Opposition has charged that the Bill is aimed at privatization of ports.
  • Opposition members said the legislation would adversely affect states’ rights.

What is Division Voting?

  • A motion is a binary question raised in Parliament for a decision to be taken by MPs.
  • A division is a type of voting which records how each MP voted on a motion.
  • There are three methods of holding a Division i.e.
  1. By operating  the  Automatic  Vote  Recorder
  2. By distributing ‘Ayes’  and  ‘Noes’  slips  in  the  House  and
  3. By members going into  the  Lobbies
  • However, the method of recording of votes in Lobbies has become obsolete ever since the installation of  Automatic  Vote Recording machine.
  • This procedure has not been used for the last two decades

Not a usual practice

In spite of the advantages offered by division, it is not the default method of voting in Parliament.

  • The division is only mandated for a set of motions which require a special majority of the house to be passed.
  • For example, constitutional amendment bills have to be passed by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House “present and voting”.
  • To ensure that this condition is fulfilled, a division is called for. On other occasions, individual MPs have to ask for a division.
  • During the term of the last Lok Sabha (2014-19), voting by division was held only on 108 occasions. Only half of these were asked for by MPs, the other half related to constitutional amendment bills.

What is the preferred method?

  • The preferred method for making decisions in Parliament is through a voice vote.
  • In this method, MPs orally convey their agreement or disagreement to a motion.
  • It clubs the individual decisions of MPs in one loud chorus of “Ayes” or “Noes”.
  • Being an oral vote, it does not put on parliamentary record the stand of political parties and individual MPs on contentious political issues.

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