The first Parliament session of 2021 will began with President Ram Nath Kovind addressing members of both Houses of Parliament.
While his address will mark the beginning of the session, it will not constitute a joint sitting of the two Houses.
In India, the practice of the President addressing Parliament can be traced back to the Government of India Act of 1919.
This law gave the Governor-General the right of addressing the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State.
The law did not have a provision for a joint address but the Governor-General did address the Assembly and the Council together on multiple occasions.
And after the Constitution came into force, President Rajendra Prasad addressed members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the first time on January 31, 1950.
Powers of address
The Constitution gives the President the power to address either House or a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament. Article 87 provides two special occasions on which the President addresses a joint sitting.
The first is to address the opening session of a new legislature after a general election. The second is to address the first sitting of Parliament each year. A session of a new or continuing legislature cannot begin without fulfilling this requirement.
When the Constitution came into force, the President was required to address each session of Parliament. The First Amendment to the Constitution in 1951 changed this position and made the President’s address once a year.
There is no set format for the President’s speech. The speech that the President reads is the viewpoint of the government and is written by it.
All the information from various ministries is aggregated and shaped into a speech, which is then sent to the President. The government uses the President’s address to make policy and legislative announcements.
Motion of thanks
In the days following the President’s address, a motion is moved in the two Houses thanking the President for his address.
The Prime Minister replies to the motion of thanks in both Houses, and responds to the issues raised by MPs. The motion is then put to vote and MPs can express their disagreement by moving amendments to the motion.
In case the motion fails to be passed in the Lok Sabha, it is considered a failure of ruling government and they will have to resign.
The Parliament of India is bicameral. There may be situation where a deadlock may occur regarding consensus on a bill.
The Constitution of India provides for Joint sittings of both the Houses to break the deadlock. The joint sitting of the Parliament is called by the President (Article 108).
The sitting is presided over by the Speaker or, in their absence, by the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha or in their absence, the Deputy-Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.
Under the Constitution of India, money bills require the approval of the Lok Sabha only. Rajya Sabha can make recommendations to Lok Sabha, which it is not required to accept.
Constitution Amendment Bill
Article 368 of Indian constitution require that constitution of India can be amended by both houses of parliament by 2/3 majority (special majority). There is no provision to summon a joint session of parliament.