Adjournment Motion – The Core IAS

Adjournment Motion

Context: As Opposition parties demanded a discussion on the alleged sexual assault of at least two women in Manipur, amid the ongoing ethnic violence in the state, the day two of the Monsoon Session of Parliament proceedings saw the Lok Sabha being adjourned.

What are the various motions raised in Indian Parliament?

In both the houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, there are ways for Members of Parliament to draw the attention of the house to any relevant issue. For this, there are various procedures given.

There are four main procedures under which there could be a discussion in the Lok Sabha — a debate without voting under Rule 193, a motion (with a vote) under Rule 184, and an adjournment motion or a no-confidence motion.  Except the last one, similar measures also exist in the Rajya Sabha.

Rule 193, Short Duration Discussion

Short Duration Discussions can also take place in Lok Sabha under Rule 193 of its rules and in Rajya Sabha under Rule 176 of its rules.

Under Rule 176 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha, “If the Chairman is satisfied… that the matter is urgent and is of sufficient public importance to be raised in the Council at an early date, he may admit the notice and in consultation with the Leader of the Council fix the date on which such matter may be taken up for discussion and allow such time for discussion, not exceeding two and a half hours…” 

The government had agreed to this being invoked, while Opposition parties favoured a longer period for discussion. 

The Opposition instead wanted Rule 267 to be invoked, under which Rajya Sabha MPs can give a written notice to suspend all listed business and discuss an issue of importance. 

Rule 184, a motion with a vote

If a motion on a matter of general public interest satisfies certain conditions, such as that it “shall not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations or defamatory statements”, “shall be restricted to a matter of recent occurrence”, and so on, then that motion can be admitted. Also, motions on a matter pending before any statutory authority (one established by law) or any commission or court of enquiry cannot be moved.

However, in Lok Sabha, the Speaker can allow for such a matter to be raised at his own discretion. It must be concerned with the “procedure or subject or stage of enquiry” of an issue, and if the Speaker is satisfied that it is not likely to prejudice the consideration of such matter by the relevant authority that takes it up.

The Speaker can then allot a time period for the discussion of any such motion.

Here, the debate is on a specific question, and this is followed by a vote to determine Parliament’s position on the issue. Passage of a motion would require the government to follow Parliament’s decision on the issue. Such motions are not very common. For example, in August 2011, opposition parties had demanded a debate with voting on the issue of rising prices. However, the motion that was moved did not require any specific action and only called upon the government.

What is Rule 267, and Rule 176

According to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, Rule 267 relates to suspension of rules. It says, “Any member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the Council of that day and if the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being: Provided further that this rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules.”

Short-duration discussion, on the other hand, is a brief discussion not exceeding two-and-a-half hours under Rule 176.

what is an adjournment motion?

A motion for an adjournment of the business of the House is moved for discussing a “definite matter of urgent public importance”, with the Speaker’s consent. The notice for this is to be given before 10 am on a given day to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General. This is not a provision available in the Rajya Sabha.

Just like the motion with a vote, it should fulfill a list of criteria and can then be admitted. 

The Speaker, after being satisfied that there has been adequate debate, can put up a question afterwards. Passage of an adjournment motion does not require the government to resign. However, it is seen as a strong censure of the government.