The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:
  • Mention the definition of a Joint session and it’s goals.
  • Enumerate, in what instances the sessions would happen and when it won’t.

Answer:

India has a bicameral legislature, passage of any bill requires concurrence of both houses (the lower house, Lok Sabha and the upper house, Rajya Sabha). The Constitution makers foresaw such situations where a deadlock may occur between the two houses of the Parliament and to resolve this deadlock provision of joint sitting is provided in Indian Constitution.

Details about Joint sitting of Parliament 

Article 108 of the Indian Constitution provides for a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament

  • The joint session is summoned by the President.
  • It is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • The joint sitting is governed by the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and not of Rajya Sabha.
  • The quorum to constitute a joint sitting: 1/10th of the total number of members of the House.
  • The Bill is passed by a simple majority of the total number of members of both the Houses present and voting in the joint sitting,

Occasions when Joint Session of Parliament is summoned:

  1. To resolve deadlock when any house of the Parliament passes a bill and:
    1. The other House rejects this bill, or
    2. The Houses do not agree on the amendments made to the bill, or
    3. More than six months elapsed with the bill being received by the other House without it being passed.
  2. According to Article 87 of the Constitution, there are two instances when the country’s President specifically addresses a joint sitting of both Houses. They are:
    1. At the start of the first session after a general election. This is when the reconstituted ok Sabha meets for the first time after being elected.
    2. At the start of the first session every year.
  3. When any foreign dignitary may addresses the Parliament e.g. Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Parliament during his visit in 2010.

Some Examples of Joint Sessions to resolve deadlock

Since 1950, the provision regarding the joint sitting of the two Houses has been invoked only thrice. The bills that have been passed at joint sittings are:

  1.  Dowry Prohibition Bill, 1960.
  2. Banking Service Commission (Repeal) Bill, 1977.
  3. Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002.

Exceptions to Joint Session

According to the Indian Constitution, there are two exceptions when a joint sitting cannot be summoned. They are for the following bills:

  1. Constitution Amendment Bill: According to Article 368, both houses of Parliament must pass a Constitutional Amendment bill separately. There is no provision for a joint sitting in case of a disagreement.
  2. Money Bill (Article 110): As per the Constitution, money bills require the Lok Sabha’s approval only, Rajya Sabha has limited powers in this regard.

Joint sitting is an extraordinary machinery provided by the Constitution aimed to maintain a much-needed synergy between the two houses of the Parliament.

 

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