Raising Matters of Urgent Public Importance


Raising Matters of Urgent Public Importance

Date: 24 Jul 2017
Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Member of Parliament
Shri Bhartruhari Mahtab, Member of Parliament


                                                         Speaker's Research Initiative Cell


                                                        Subject    : Raising Matters of Urgent Public Importance

                                                        Date          : 24th July 2017

                                                        Speakers : Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Member of Parliament,Lok Sabha

                                                        Shri Bharatruhari Mahtab, Member of Parliament,Lok Sabha


A Workshop on Raising Matters on Urgent Public Importance under the auspices of SRI was organised on 24th July, 2017 in BPST Main Lecture Hall, Parliament Library Building.  The Workshop commenced at 1600 hrs.  The workshop began with the welcome Remarks  by Shri Rahul Dev, Honorary Advisor. While introducing the subject and Resource Persons, he highlighted that this workshop is a refresher for the Members of Parliament and an attempt to discuss various intricacies of parliamentary devices for raising matters of the urgent public importance.

Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, MP, LS, While introducing the concept of calling attention as an important legislative tool Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, spoke about the fabric of democracy, form of government, responsibilities of executive and tools for holding the government accountable. He said concept of calling attention is an Indian innovation in modern parliamentary procedure, if member of parliament feels that a particular topic or incident is of urgent public importance, he/she can raise the matter in house, for which there are various provisions and rules.  He added that it is not possible to remember whole rule book, but certain rules which are most important and can affect the working of house or help in drawing attention of the house can be remembered and put to best use. He emphasised the need to use these tools given by rules and procedure, and that lot depends upon ones drafting when it comes to whether his/her request will be admitted or otherwise. Giving his own example, he said that at times it may happen that member's request may not come in ballot but if he/she can convince Hon’ble Speaker that the issue raised is matter of urgent public importance, it might get admitted.  He informed the members that it is a procedural device through which they can not only raise matters of their own constituency but any other area affecting masses. This should be seen as a tool to serve people of the country.  In order to raise matters of urgent importance, he suggested the members to go through questions raised in the Parliament along with debates. He also emphasised on following up the matter at different forums and pursue to make Government to submit an answer. It can sometimes lead to debate or if one is fortunate enough, it can lead to changes in the law. 

Dr. Joshi also elaborated the importance and modus operandi of Parliamentary procedural tools like Half an hour discussion, Short Notice Question, Point of Order and Calling attention, which is a tool through which a member can raise matters of constituencies or any other matter of urgent public importance.  There is a procedure to move calling attention which involves filling a form, signature from the other Members and your explanation for moving calling attention motion. One more condition in calling attention is that respective Minister's consent is necessary along with his availability in the House. If the Member who has moved the motion is not satisfied with the participation or opportunity given to other Members, he can demand a discussion. These discussions will surely lead to a fruitful debate and eventually will make you expert of the topic. Discussing the number and trends of calling attention notices in Tenth, Eleventh ,Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth  Lok Sahba, Dr. Joshi said, Many a times Ministers try not to face a calling attention motion as it empowers a Member to  ask direct questions.

Appreciating the expertise of Ex parliamentarian and colleague Shri Hari Vishnu Kamath  he said, Kamath ji  became expert in raising point of order and many  times his point of order was well taken and rule was relaxed by Hon’ble Speaker. For raising point of order one needs to read Bulletin part 1 and Bulletin part 2 very avidly and carefully. He also emphasised reading parliamentary documents as the same very important and one  should make a habit of reading them diligently. He further added, that now days MPs hesitate to raise point of order considering that it may go against their own Minister (Minister of their party) or Government.  This shouldn’t happen, because when any constitutional procedure is breached one shouldn’t hesitate to raise point of order.

He further discussed the importance of zero hour and how it can be used to draw attention of the House.  He emphasised that quality issues should be raised by the Members of the House.  He said that topic should be specific and precise to draw attention of the Hon’ble Speaker and the House.  He highlighted that Member should pursue the matter with patience and perseverance and should not give up. 

Intervention by Kunwar Harivansh Singh, MP: - Can a private member bill become a Law.

Response by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:-  It should become,  but once it happened that Government has taken up the matter and admitted that Government itself will make law on the issue. But, sometimes there are issues which Government cannot push through, it works in a premise. Members still have an option to draw attention of Government to an issue of Urgent Public importance by introducing Private Members Bill.

Intervention by Laxmi Narayan Yadav, MP: -  Do questions raised in zero hour are also answered  .

Response by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:-  If you raise important matters in zero hour, sometimes it leads to debate.

Intervention by Laxmi Narayan Yadav, MP: -   I have recieved an answer of question raised in zero hour and not one raised in rule 377  .

Response by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:-  Usually question raised in zero hour doesn't get answered it is fortunate that you got one as it is not compulsory to get an answer of question raised in zero hour.

Intervention by Shri Bharathruhari Mahtab, MP:- Under rule -377 the rule is that if you have raised a matter in this session you will definitely get an answer before the next session and if it doesn't come  then one can approach Hon'ble Speaker's Office or Secretary General that Lok Sabha to be apprised in writing the answer of the matter raised by you in rule 377.

 Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi while explaining the importance of Zero hour he said, that it is a facility in favour of the country and for the welfare of people. Through this you can not only draw the attention of the house but of the whole country. If you keep raising lot of issues daily that will not serve the purpose. when you get a permission to raise an issue  prepare the matter well which you are planning to speak upon because you will get limited time. He advised the members to make the matter specific and sharp to attract the attention of the house. If your issue doesn't come in lottery and you feel that the matter is important you can approach Hon'ble Speaker and sometimes it may get admitted after Speaker's intervention.

Intervention by Shri Bharow Prasad Singh: - He said members get more chance in Rajya Sabha.

Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:- 'Because there number of members was less'.

Intervention by Shri Bharow Prasad Singh;- Number of questions raised are 20 in Lok Sabha – "do they take more questions in Rajya Sabha".

Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:- 'They take 15 questions in Rajya Sabha'.

Shri Rahul Dev, then, asked Shri Mahtab to present his views on the topic.

Bharatruhari Mahtab, MP Lok Sabha:- started by saying that the whatever experience he has in these matters he had gained it from Joshi ji only.  It is gratifying that he is addressing us today.  Speaking on adjournment motion he said, that this trend of adjournment motion is catching up in parliament.  Giving example of Odisha Legislative Assembly, he said that everyday two Adjournment motions are admitted to be discussed. Pointing to a very wrong practice in current times he said, if Hon’ble Speaker rejects the adjournment motion then the member expects that he should be given a chance to speak in zero hour. Giving an example he said, During 14th Lok Sabha 7 adjournment motions were admitted and discussed.  He elaborated that adjournment motion gets admitted only when 50 members stand up for it.  He said that we are not taking up adjournment motion with the seriousness we should take up.  It shouldn’t be seen as disruptive procedural tool.

He pointed out that these days calling attention motions are not received in more numbers. He said, Calling Attention is such a motion through which people actually empower the Minister himself to understand the functioning of Department and Ministry.  Sometimes Minister, himself/herself needs more enlightenment on what is happening in the Ministry.  Through calling attention motion he comes to know about what is happening in the Ministry.  This is how, he also gets a grip over his Ministry.  So many a time  Minister himself asks the Member to initiate a calling attention motion.  While summing he said calling attention motion helps to a great extent in better functioning of the Government. 

Intervention by a Member: - Under Rule -193 serious issues are discussed. But the Members who gets chance to speak follow the political and party line which reduces the seriousness of the matter.

Response by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi:- If you raise any issue and you have to  follow the party line then follow it in a manner that it doesn't go against the welfare of the people or favour of the country. In this context, the presentation of the matter is the key.

Explaining the rule 184, he said that voting is held on the motion for which both parties have to agree in the sense with a vote to express an opinion.  Intelligent Members uses rule 184 to their advantage and write in a manner which cannot be opposed.  Opposition of notice under 184 is taken otherwise whereas; rule 193 does not conclude in voting, you express yourself. This is an effective way to reduce the tension in House.  Basically discussion under rule 193 happens for 2 hours.  Sometimes it gets extended to 4 hrs or beyond.

Explaining the motion under article 377 he said that it has a wider spectrum.  A member can speak about his constituency, state under rule 377.  In rule 377 everything depends on lottery system where success is affected by strength of your party. He also highlighted how these rules have helped the parliamentary system to evolve.  Sharing his experience in current session he said, he raised the matter of 2 times zones and wasn’t expecting a response from the Government.  But surprisingly Government responded to the issue.  He said one can raise issues in zero hour not only of local but of National Importance. This facility of zero hour is unique to Indian parliament.  Its not available elsewhere in the world.

Shri Rahul Dev, Honrary Advisor, SRI thanked the Resource Persons for the candid and informal discussion bringigng out the nuances of less visited and lesser known aspects of Parliamentary Procedures which was very insightful and Knowledgeable.

The Workshop then concluded.