Context: Question Hour, which had been suspended by the government during the monsoon session, will resume when Parliament meets for the budget session from January 29.
- President Ram Nath Kovind will address the joint session of both Houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session.
- This will be the first time in history that the Parliamentarians will hear the President’s budget speech from three different locations.
- The last two sessions of Parliament were truncated, due to the rising number of COVID cases.
- The government had claimed that suspension of Question Hour, which gives the Opposition an opportunity to hold the government accountable, was an additional precautionary measures to tackle the COVID pandemic.
Sessions of Parliament:
- The longest - Budget Session - starts towards the end of January, and concludes by the end of April or first week of May.
- The session has a recess so that Parliamentary Committees can discuss the budgetary proposals.
- The second session is the three-week Monsoon Session, which usually begins in July and finishes in August.
- The parliamentary year ends with a three week-long Winter Session, which is held from November to December.
- It is during this one hour that Members of Parliament ask questions of ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries.
- The questions that MPs ask are designed to elicit information and trigger suitable action by ministries.
- Induces transparency: The questions asked have exposed financial irregularities and brought data and information regarding government functioning to the public domain.
- The live broadcast of Question Hour has become one the most visible aspects of parliamentary functioning.
- Question Hour in both Houses is held on all days of the session.
- There is no Question Hour on the day the President addresses MPs from both Houses in the Central Hall.
- The President’s speech takes place at the beginning of a new Lok Sabha and on the first day of a new Parliament year.
- Question Hour is not scheduled either on the day the Finance Minister presents the Budget.
- The presiding officers of the two houses are the final authority with respect to the conduct of Question Hour.
- While Question Hour is strictly regulated, Zero Hour is an Indian parliamentary innovation which is not mentioned in the rules of procedure.
- Usually Question Hour is the first hour of a parliamentary sitting. In 2014, Rajya Sabha Chairman shifted Question Hour in the House from 11 am to 12 noon. The move was to prevent the disruption of Question Hour.