No discussion on a matter of general public importance can take place except on a motion made with the consent of the presiding officer. The House expresses its decisions or opinions on various issues through the adoption or rejection of motions moved by either ministers or private members. The motions moved by the members to raise discussions on various matters fall into three principal categories:
- Substantive Motion: It is a self-contained independent proposal dealing with a very important matter like the impeachment of the President or removal of Chief Election Commissioner.
- Substitute Motion: It is a motion that is moved in substitution of an original motion and proposes an alternative to it. If adopted by the House, it supersedes the original motion.
- Subsidiary Motion: It is a motion that, by itself, has no meaning and cannot state the decision of the House without reference to the original motion or proceedings of the House. It is divided into three subcategories:
(a) Ancillary Motion: It is used as the regular way of proceeding with various kinds of business.
(b) Superseding Motion: It is moved in the course of the debate on another issue and seeks to supersede that issue.
(c) Amendment: It seeks to modify or substitute only a part of the original motion.
Closure Motion It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the House. If the motion is approved by the House, the debate is stopped forthwith and the matter is put to vote.
There are four kinds of closure motions:
(a) Simple Closure: It is one when a member moves that the ‘matter has been sufficiently discussed be now put to vote.
(b) Closure by Compartments: In this case, the clauses of a bill or a lengthy resolution are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate. The debate covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.
(c) Kangaroo Closure: Under this type, only important clauses are taken up for debate and voting and the intervening clauses are skipped over and taken as passed.
(d) Guillotine Closure: It is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolution are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to wanting of time (as the time allotted for the discussion is over).
Privilege Motion It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister. It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. Its purpose is to ensure the concerned minister.
Calling Attention Motion It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter. Like the zero hours, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hours, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.
Adjournment Motion It is introduced in the Parliament to draw the attention of the House to a definite matter of urgent public importance and needs the support of 50 members to be admitted. As it interrupts the normal business of the House, it is regarded as an extraordinary device. It involves an element of censure against the government and hence Rajya Sabha is not permitted to make use of this device. The discussion on an adjournment motion should last for not less than two hours and thirty minutes. The right to move a motion for an adjournment of the business of the House is subject to the following restrictions.
- It should raise a matter which is definite, factual, urgent and of public importance;
- It should not cover more than one matter;
- It should be restricted to a specific matter of recent occurrence and should not be framed in general terms;
- It should not raise a question of privilege;
- It should not revive discussion on a matter that has been discussed in the same session;
- It should not deal with any matter that is under adjudication by the court; and
- It should not raise any question that can be raised on a distinct motion.
Controversy on the acceptance of motions In 2018, a controversy came into light when Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, also the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha refused to admit the motion seeking initiation of impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice of India. So, the question comes in whether chairmen of Rajya Sabha or speaker of Lok Sabha can reject the motion for the impeachment of judges? Section 3(1) in The Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, provides for an answer over this controversy. As per the act, the speaker of the Lok Sabha or the chairman of the Rajya Sabha has the power to either admit the motion or refuse to do so without attracting judicial scrutiny.
Privilege motions Recently Privilege motions were moved by Congress and BJP respectively against leaders of each other’s party. certain parliamentary privileges are bestowed upon Members of Parliament (MPs) collectively and individually to discharge their duties effectively and efficiently. When any of the given privileges is disregarded by any other MP, it is called a breach of privilege. This act of punishable offense under the law of parliament. When a breach of privilege takes place, an MP can move a privilege motion against those being held guilty of a breach. The rules governing privilege motion are mentioned as Rule 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and as Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha Rule Book. As per rule, the question of breach of privilege can be raised with the speaker or chairman. If the speaker or Chairperson accepts the motion, the concerned member is given the chance to explain themselves. Speaker may form a committee or decide the matter on his own discretion.
Examples of privilege motion The most significant privilege motion was passed against Indira Gandhi in 1978 on the motion moved by Home Minister Charan Singh. Indira Gandhi just became an MP from Chikmagalur, was expelled from the House. in 1976, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy was expelled from Rajya Sabha due to his interviews to foreign publications, in which he made some disgraceful statements.