Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims
Why in news?
Speaker of Lok Sabha Om Birla decides to deny Rahul Gandhi an opportunity to pose a second supplementary to his question during Question Hour
- The question hour is slated for 11am every day (for an hour) in both the houses.
- This is a very important part of the proceedings where MPs ask questions on important subjects and the respective ministers respond with data, information & other details.
- These are also a very important source of information since a lot of latest up to date information/data is provided in the form of answers which are not usually available elsewhere.
Zero Hour in Parliament
- Firstly, there is no mention of zero hour in rules of Parliamentary Procedure. This term was coined by press in 1960s.
- A zero Hour is the hour after the Question Hour in the two houses of Parliament.
- During this hour, the members raise matters of importance, particularly those which they feel, cannot be delayed.
- Since this is unscheduled and without permission or prior notice, it generally results in avoidable loss of precious time of the house.
- It also obstructs the legislative, financial and regular proceedings and business of the House.
- A Half-an-Hour Discussion can be raised on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent question in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, irrespective of the fact whether the question was orally answered or the answer was laid on the table of the House.
- Generally not more than half an hour is allowed for such a discussion.
- The Chairman/Speaker decides whether the matter is of sufficient public importance to be put down for discussion.
Type of Questions
Members have a right to ask questions to elicit information on matters of public importance within the special cognizance of the Ministers concerned. The questions are of four types:—
- Starred Questions- A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer from the Minister in the House and is required to be distinguished by him/her with an asterisk. Answer to such a question may be followed by supplementary questions by members.
- Unstarred Questions- An Unstarred Question is one to which written answer is desired by the member and is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by Minister. Thus it is not called for oral answer in the House and no supplementary question can be asked thereon.
- Short Notice Questions- A member may give a notice of question on a matter of public importance and of urgent character for oral answer at a notice less than 10 days prescribed as the minimum period of notice for asking a question in ordinary course. Such a question is known as ‘Short Notice Question’.
- Questions to Private Members- A Question may also be addressed to a Private Member (Under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), provided that the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that Member is responsible. The procedure in regard to such questions is same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary.
- Starred Questions are those for which an oral answer is expected. The member is allowed to ask a supplementary question, with the permission of the Speaker, after the reply is obtained from the Minister concerned.
- Non-starred questions are those for which a written reply is expected. After the reply has been provided, NO supplementary question can be asked.
- A notice period is to be given to the minister to reply to a question. However, if a Member seeks to ask a question urgently and cannot wait for the duration of the notice period, then the member can do so provided it is accepted by the Speaker. Such questions are called supplementary questions.