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Motions ans Resolutions In Parliament – Understanding Them In The Present Context

On 27th August, our Parliament passed a resolution accepting 3 conditions put forward by Anna Hazare. But parliament did not vote on the resolution, though government had promised team Anna that it would put the resolution for voice vote.

Team Anna had specifically asked government to put the resolution for voting to know which party  or how many members supported conditions put forward by Anna Hazare.

Parliament discusses matters of public importance by passing motions and resolutions inside the House and then it votes its opinion after debate and discussion.

A motion is a proposal brought before the House for eliciting decision or expressing the opinion of the house. Motions are moved by either ministers or private members. Discussion takes place only with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairman of the House (Rule 184 of Lok Sabha).

Anna Hazare had said that he would end his fast when government accepted his 3 conditions. Government under immense public and united opposition pressure decided to discus the matter in Parliament by passing a resolution.

On August 27, in an historic occasion, parliamentarians debated the issue of Jan Lokpal bill and three conditions of Anna Hazare. Those 3 conditions were:

  • The lower bureaucracy should be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal
  • Putting together a “citizen’s charter” for time-bound disposal of public grievances against government
  • Bringing the anti-graft ombudsmen (Lokayukta) in the states under the Lokpal
At the end of the day, after 9 hours of informed debate, government passed a resolution. It informed Anna Hazare through PM’s letter that the resolution would be sent to Standing Committee for consideration, which is formulating  the Lokpal  bill to be put before the parliament for passing the bill.
The main points of resolution were like this:
1) That this House resolves through an appropriate law that an effective Lokpal and state Lokayukta be set up compatible to constitutional mechanism.

2) Employees of state and Center are brought under the purview through appropriate mechanism.

3) All government departments to have citizen’s charter with a timeline for the completion of any work.

Intriguing thing was that – why didn’t government put the resolution for voting?

Accoring to Subhash Kashyap, former secretary general of Loksabha all resolutions should be voted upon (Our Parliament, page 145); this factor differentiates them from motions which are otherwise similar to resolutions.

Resolutions come under ‘substantive motions’ (there are 3 kinds of motions – substantive, substitute and subsidiary motions). Substantive motion is a self contained independent proposal submitted for the approval of the House and drafted in such a way as to be capable of expressing a decision of the House.

Other examples of substantive motions are motion of no confidence, motions for election or removal of Speaker, Deputy Speaker etc.

The resolution passed by parliament come under ‘government resolutions’.

What is important is whether the standing committee accepts the resolution or not. As the resolution is not voted upon, it may not be binding on the government. This might be an excuse for the government if standing committee doesn’t incorporate recommendations of the resolution.

Then, once again Anna may have to fast. But let’s hope government doesn’t backtrack on its promise.