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Rules of Procedure
and Conduct of Business
in
Lok Sabha

Chapter VII

QUESTIONS


 

32. Unless the Speaker otherwise directs, the first hour of every sitting shall be available for the asking and answering of questions.

Period of notice

33. Unless the Speaker otherwise directs, not less than ten and not more than twenty-one clear days' notice of a question shall be given.

Form of notice

34. (1) Notice of a question shall be given in writing to the Secretary-General and shall specify-

*1[(a) the text of the question ;].

*2[(b) the official designation of the Minister to whom the question is addressed;

(c) the date on which answer to the question is desired; and]

*3[(d) the order of preference, if any, for its being placed on the list of questions, where a member tables more than one notice of questions for the same day.].

(2) Where a notice is signed by more than one member, it shall be deemed to have been given by the first signatory only.

Notice of admitted questions to Ministers

35. Unless the Speaker otherwise directs, no question shall be placed on the list of questions for answer until five days have expired from the day when notice of such question was given by the Secretary-General to the Minister to whom it was addressed.

Starred questions

36. A member who desires an oral answer to his question shall distinguish it by an asterisk. If he does not distinguish it by an asterisk, the question shall be placed on the list of questions for written answer.

Limit of number of starred questions

37. (1) Not more than one question distinguished by *4[an] asterisk by the same member and not more than twenty questions in all shall be placed on the list of questions for oral answer on any one day:

Provided that when a question is postponed or transferred from one list of questions for oral answer to another, more than one question may stand in the name of one member and the total number of questions may exceed by such postponed or transferred question.

*5[ (2) Unless the Speaker otherwise directs, where a member has given more than one notice of questions distinguished by an asterisk for same day, his question for the list of questions for oral answer shall be selected in the order indicated by the member and if no such order is indicated, any of these questions shall be placed on the list of questions for oral answer in the order in which notices are received in point of time.]

Rotational allotment of days for questions

38. The time available for answering questions shall be allotted on different days in rotation for the answering of questions relating to such Ministry or Ministries as the Speaker may, from time to time, provide, and on each such day, unless the Speaker with the consent of the Minister concerned otherwise directs, only questions relating to the Ministry or Ministries for which time has been allotted on that day shall be placed on the list of questions for oral answer.

Unstarred questions

39. (1) If a question is not distinguished by an asterisk, or if a question placed on the list of questions for oral answer on any day is not called for answer within the time available for answering questions on that day, *6[or if called for answer the member in whose name it stands is absent,] a written answer to such question shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table at the end of the Question Hour or as soon as the questions for oral answer have been disposed of, as the case may be, by the Minister to whom the question is addressed:

Provided that if a member, on being called by the Speaker, states that it is not his intention to ask the question standing in his name, the question shall be treated as having been withdrawn and no written answer thereto shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table.

*7[(2) If there is no Question Hour owing to the cancellation of a sitting or its adjournment without transacting any business, the answers to questions included in the lists of questions for oral as well as written answer shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table by the Ministers to whom such questions are addressed at the next sitting of the House after the Question Hour and form part of the proceedings of that day.

(3) If the Question Hour on any day is dispensed with or, suspended to devote more time on any other business or for any other reason, the answers to questions included in the lists of questions for oral as well as written answers for that day shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table by the Ministers to whom such questions are addressed and shall form part of the proceedings of the day:

Provided that if the House does not continue with its sitting after dispensing with or suspending the Question Hour, the answers to questions included in the lists of questions for oral as well as written answer for that day shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table after the Question Hour at the next sitting of the House and shall form part of the proceedings of that day:

Provided further that if the Question Hour is interrupted after having taken up the list of questions for oral answer and the list is partly disposed of and the sitting continues, answers to remaining questions in the list of questions for oral answer and answers to questions in the list of questions for written answer shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table after 12 O'clock and form part of the proceedings of the day.]

*8[(4) If the last sitting of a session is cancelled, the questions in the lists of questions for oral as well as written answer for that day shall lapse.]

Questions to private members

40. A question may be addressed to a private member provided 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; and the procedure in regard to such questions shall, as far as may be, be the same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary or convenient.

Admissibility of questions

41. (1) Subject to the provisions of sub-rule (2), a question may be asked for the purpose of obtaining information on a matter of public importance within the special cognizance of the Minister to whom it is addressed.

(2) The right to ask a question is governed by the following conditions, namely:-

*9[(i) it shall be clearly and precisely expressed and shall not be too general incapable of any specific answer or in the nature of a leading question;]

*10[(ii) it shall not bring in any name or statement not strictly necessary to make the question intelligible;

(iii) if it contains a statement the member shall make himself responsible for the accuracy of the statement;

(iv) it shall not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations, epithets or defamatory statements;

(v) it shall not ask for an expression of opinion or the solution of an abstract legal question or of a hypothetical proposition;

(vi) it shall not ask as to the character or conduct of any person except in his official or public capacity;

(vii) it shall not ordinarily exceed 150 words;

(viii) it shall not relate to a matter which is not primarily the concern of the Government of India;

(ix) it shall not ask about proceedings in the Committee which have not been placed before the House by a report from the Committee.

(x) it shall not reflect on the character or conduct of any person whose conduct can only be challenged on a substantive motion;

(xi) it shall not make or imply a charge of a personal character;

(xii) it shall not raise questions of policy too large to be dealt with within the limits of an answer to a question;

(xiii) it shall not repeat in substance questions already answered or to which an answer has been refused;

(xiv) it shall not ask for information on trivial matters;

(xv) it shall not ordinarily ask for information on matters of past history;

(xvi) it shall not ask for information set forth in accessible documents or in ordinary works of reference;

(xvii) it shall not raise matters under the control of bodies or persons not primarily responsible to the Government of India;

(xviii) it shall not ask for information on matter which is under adjudication by a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India;

(xix) it shall not relate to a matter with which a Minister is not officially*11[concerned];

(xx) it shall not refer discourteously to a friendly foreign country;

*12[(xxi) it shall not seek information about matters which are in their nature secret, such as composition of Cabinet Committees, Cabinet discussions, or advice given to the President in relation to any matter in respect of which there is a constitutional, statutory or conventional obligation not to disclose information;]

(xxii) it shall not ordinarily ask for information on matters which are under consideration of a Parliamentary Committee; and

(xxiii) it shall not ordinarily ask about matters pending before any statutory tribunal or statutory authority performing any judicial or quasijudicial functions or any commission or court of enquiry appointed to enquire into, or investigate, any matter but may refer to matters concerned with procedure or subject or stage of enquiry, if it is not likely to prejudice the consideration of the matter by the tribunal or commission or court of enquiry.]

Questions on matters of correspondence between Government of India and State Governments

42. In matters which are or have been the subject of correspondence between the Government of India and the Government of a State, no question shall be asked except as to matters of fact, and the answer shall be confined to a statement of fact.

Speaker to decide admissibility

43. (1) The Speaker shall decide whether a question, or a part thereof, is or is not admissible under these rules and may disallow any question, or a part thereof, when in his opinion it is an abuse of the right of questioning or is calculated to obstruct or prejudicially affect the procedure of the House or is in contravention of these rules.

(2) Subject to the provisions of rule 38, the Speaker may direct that a question be placed on the list of questions for answer on a date later than that specified by a member in his notice if he is of the opinion that a longer period is necessary to decide whether the question is or is not admissible.

Speaker to decide if a question is to be treated as starred or unstarred

44. If in the opinion of the Speaker any question put down for oral answer is of such a nature that a written reply would be more appropriate, the Speaker may direct that such question be placed on the list of questions for written answer:

Provided that the Speaker may, if he thinks fit, call upon the member who has given notice of a question for oral answer to state in brief his reasons for desiring an oral answer and, after considering the same, may direct that the question be included in the list of questions for written answer.

*13[Limit of number of unstarred questions

45. (1) Questions which have been admitted and not included in the list of questions for oral answer shall be included in the list of questions for written answer, in accordance with the orders of the Speaker.

(2) In the list of questions for written answer on any one day, not more than four questions by the same member if he has one question in the list of questions for oral answer, and not more than five questions if he has none in the list of questions for oral answer, and not more than 230 questions in all, shall be included:

Provided that these limits may be exceeded by the number of questions transferred or postponed from one list of questions for written answer to another:

Provided further that the overall limit of 230 questions in the list of questions for written answer on any one day may exceed by the number of questions pertaining to a State or States under President's Rule subject to the maximum limit of 25.]

Order in which starred questions to be called

46. Questions for oral answers shall be called, if the time made available for questions permits, in the order in which they stand on the list before any other business is entered upon at the sitting:

Provided that a question not reached for oral answer may be answered after the end of the Question Hour with the permission of the Speaker if the Minister represents to the Speaker that the question is one of special public interest to which he desires to give a reply.

Withdrawal or postponement of questions

47. A member may, by notice given at any time before the sitting for which his question has been placed on the list, withdraw his question, or postpone it to a later day to be specified in the notice and on such later day the question shall, subject to the provisions of rule 38, be placed on the list after all questions which have not been so postponed:

Provided that a postponed question shall not be placed on the list until two clear days have expired from the day when the notice of postponement has been received by the Secretary-General.

Mode of asking questions

48. (1) When the time for asking questions arrives, the Speaker shall call successively each member in whose name a question appears on the list of question.

(2) The member so called shall rise in his place and, unless he states that it is not his intention to ask the question standing in his name, ask the question by reference to its number on the list of questions.

(3) If on a question being called it is not asked *14[as] the member in whose name it stands is absent, the Speaker may, at the request of any member, direct that the answer to it be given.

Starred questions of absent members

49. When all the questions for which oral answers are desired have been called the Speaker may, if time permits, call again any question which has not been asked by reason of the absence of the member in whose name it stands, and may also permit a member to ask a question standing in the name of another member, if so authorized by him.

Supplementary questions

50. *15[(1) The member in whose name a question is listed for oral answer or any other member, when called by the Speaker, may ask a supplementary question for the purpose of further elucidating any matter of fact regarding which an answer has been given.

(2) A supplementary question shall be held out of order by the Speaker if, in his opinion:

(i) it does not arise from the main question or its answer;

(ii) instead of seeking information, it gives information;

(iii) it involves more than one separate issues;

(iv) it seeks confirmation or denial of an opinion; and

(v) it infringes any of the rules regarding questions.

(3) No discussion shall be permitted during the time for questions under rule 32 in respect of any question or of any answer given to a question.

Answer not to refer to proceedings in Council

51. An answer to question in the House shall not refer to the answer to a question or proceedings in the Council during a current session.

Lapse of pending questions referred to members

52. Where a reference is made to a member in connection with the notice of a question and no reply is received or a reply received from him is too late for the consideration of the Speaker and the placing of the question, if admitted, on the list of questions for an appropriate date, such notice shall be deemed to have lapsed.

Prohibition of advance publicity of answers

53. Answers to questions which Ministers propose to give in the House shall not be released for publication until the answers have actually been given on the floor of the House or laid on the Table.

Short notice questions

54. (1) A question relating to a matter of public importance may be asked with notice shorter than ten clear days and if the Speaker is of opinion that the question is of an urgent character he may direct that an enquiry may be made from the Minister concerned if he is in a position to reply and, if so, on what date.

(2) If the Minister concerned agrees to reply, such question shall be answered on a day to be indicated by him and shall be called immediately after the questions which have appeared on the list of questions for oral answer have been disposed of.

(3) If the Minister is unable to answer the question at short notice and the Speaker is of opinion that the question is of sufficient public importance to be orally answered in the House, he may direct that the question be placed as the first question on the list of questions for the day on which it would be due for answer under rule 33:

Provided that not more than one such question shall be accorded first priority on the list of questions for any one day.

(3A) Where a notice of a short notice question is signed by more than one member, it shall be deemed to have been given by the first signatory only.

(4) Where two or more members give short notice questions on the same subject and one of the questions is accepted for answer at short notice, names of not more than four members, other than the one whose notice has been admitted, as determined by ballot, shall be shown against the admitted question:

Provided that the Speaker may direct that all the notices be consolidated into a single notice, if in his opinion it is desirable to have a single self-contained question covering all the important points raised by members, and the Minister shall then give his reply to the consolidated question:

Provided further that in the case of consolidated question, names of not more than four members, other than the one whose notice has been admitted, as determined by ballot, shall be shown against the question.

(5) Where a member desires an oral answer to a question at a shorter notice, he shall briefly state the reasons for asking the question with short notice. Where no reasons have been assigned in the notice of the question, the question shall be returned to the member.

(6) The member who has given notice of the question shall be in his seat to ask the question by reference to its number on the list of questions when called by the Speaker and the Minister concerned shall give a reply immediately:

Provided that when a question is shown in the names of more than one member the Speaker shall call the name of the first member or, in his absence, any other name.

(7) In other respects, the procedure for short notice questions shall be the same as for ordinary questions for oral answer with such modifications as the Speaker may consider necessary or convenient.

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[*1] Ins. by L.S. Bn. (II) dated 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*2] Clauses (a) and (b) relettered as (b) and (c) and clause (c) so relettered sub. Ibid.

[*3] Added Ibid.

[*4] Ins. by L.S. Bn. (II) dated 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*5] Sub. Ibid

[*6] Ins. by L.S.Bn. (II) dated 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*7] Sub. Ibid

[*8] Added by L.S. Bn. (II) dated 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*9] Ins. Ibid.

[*10] Renumbered Ibid.

[*11] Sub. by L.S. Bn. (II) datd 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*12] Sub. Ibid.

[*13] Sub. by L.S. Bn. (II) dated 9-5-1989, para 2930.

[*14-15] Sub. by L.S. Bn. (II) 9-5-1989, para 2930.

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