The current uncertainty about the winter session of Parliament has triggered a heated debate between the ruling BJP and the Congress, but the fact is that sessions have been truncated and re-adjusted in the past too.
The most bizarre is the instance of 2008. The Lok Sabha had a protracted single (technically speaking) session — officially termed 14th session of the 14th Lok Sabha — which was spread over three spells. The House first met for two days on July 21 and 22 to take up a motion of confidence in the Manmohan Singh government following a withdrawal of support by the Left Front over the India-US nuclear deal.
The part from October 17 to 24 had only six sittings and the third part — from December 10 to 23 — had just 10 sittings. In a nutshell, it was a combined monsoon and winter session as well as the two-day session convened for disposing of the confidence motion.
The Chair announced while adjourning the Lok Sabha on October 24, 2008: “Hon. Speaker has received a request dated 24th October, 2008, from the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, stating that the Government, after discussion with the Leaders of various political parties in Parliament, intends to adjourn the House today to meet on Wednesday, the 10th December, 2008. Hon. Speaker has acceded to the request and accordingly, the House stands adjourned to meet again at 11 am on Wednesday, the 10th December, 2008.”
The monsoon and winter sessions had been cut short so that leaders of all parties could be free to campaign in the five states headed for Assembly elections in November and December. The counting in all the states took place the same day — December 8 — and the third part of the session began on December 10.
In 2013, the same five states went to polls in November and December, and the results were declared on December 8. A brief winter session followed, from December 5 to December 19, but only after polling concluded.
The session, instead of being prorogued, was kept technically alive, so the Lok Sabha could be convened again — February 5-22, 2014 — to dispose of urgent financial business. This was necessary because the first session in a calendar year had to begin with a Presidential Address and it was not advisable for a government scheduled to complete its term — in May 2014 — to enunciate its policies through it.
The MPs had reached an understanding for readjusting sessions only for this round of Assembly elections. No such concession was made on account of Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in 2007 and 2012.
The winter session in 2011 was scheduled to be held from November 22 to December 21. However, it ended on December 29. The government chose to give a go-by to the normal practice of calling it a day well before Christmas so that members from areas like Kerala and Northeastern states, which account for sizeable Christian populations, can celebrate the festival at home.
The government, faced with an agitation led by Anna Hazare, facilitated a debate on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. Both Houses of Parliament passed a resolution on December 27 accepting the three preconditions set by Hazare for ending his fast. He called off his protest the next day.