March 18, 2015 2:19:39 am
The Indian Express reported on Tuesday that the government is likely to prorogue Parliament to ensure that the land acquisition ordinance stays alive. What does prorogation of the House mean, and how does the government plan to proceed?
What does the government plan to do?
To end the ongoing session of Parliament on March 20 by ‘proroguing’ the House. Prorogation is one of two ways in which the President, using powers conferred upon him by Art 85 of the Constitution, may terminate a session of Parliament. [The second way is by Dissolution, which ends the life of Lok Sabha and brings on an election.] When the House is prorogued, all pending notices, motions and resolutions lapse, but Bills — as per Article 107(3) — don’t.
Why is it necessary to prorogue the House?
It allows the government to repromulgate the ordinance that amended the Land Acquisition Act. It is necessary to repromulgate the ordinance because the Bill to amend the Land Act, though passed by Lok Sabha on March 10, is unlikely to pass in Rajya Sabha as long as the government is in a minority there, and the opposition is united. And if the ordinance is not repromulgated — effectively re-issued — it will lapse. The government is believed to be relying on several precedents for prorogation of Parliament under similar circumstances.
Why will the Land ordinance lapse?
Art 123 gives President the power to legislate through an ordinance if it is not possible for Parliament to enact a law immediately. While an ordinance may amend or repeal any Act, its life is temporary. An ordinance must be laid before Parliament when it reassembles, and Parliament must approve it within 6 weeks of the date of its reassembly, after which the ordinance ceases to have effect. The land ordinance was promulgated on December 31, 2014, and the Budget session began on February 23, 2015. The six weeks from the day of the first sitting end on April 5.
How will proroguing the House help?
As per the original schedule of the Budget session, Parliament was to meet from February 23 to March 20, and take a break from March 21 to April 19. It is supposed to reassemble for the rest of the session on April 20, which is to conclude on May 8. By proroguing one or both Houses on March 20, the last day of the first part of the session, the government will terminate the sitting before the six weeks from February 23 run out on April 5, and give itself space to repromulgate the ordinance, which will then have a fresh six-month life.
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