Question: The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof.
Answer: The joint session of the Parliament is a feature in the constitution, under Article 108, that allows both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to assemble together and make a joint decision regarding passing of a bill. The joint session is an extraordinary feature and has been used only twice in our political history.
Occasions when joint session takes place
- No consensus on a general bill
The main reason for a joint session to take place is the lack of consensus between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha regarding a particular common bill, which leads to deadlock. In that instance the President of India summons a joint session for resolving the difference and passing the bill for legislation.
- Important legislation is stuck up
The joint session can also be held if an important issue that requires legislation is not yet been in place. This requires an urgent assembly of the two houses of the parliament so that the bill is passed for legislation.
Ex: Bank reforms bill which mandated an urgent joint session of the parliament.
Occasions when joint session doesn’t take place
- Constitutional amendment bill
The joint session is available only for general bills and not for constitutional amendment bill because the upper house will not be able to influence the decision making. This is because, the joint session requires a joint voting and majority is taken from combined strength of both the houses. Lok Sabha with higher number will be a sure shot winner in such circumstances and thus Rajya Sabha loses its importance as a revisionary body. Thus it only applies to general bills and not constitutional amendment bill.
- Voting on impeachment
Joint session also does not occur for any impeachment voting regarding President, Vice President or any other constitutional body. This is because the numerical strength of a particular political party in a particular house can influence the decision in joint sitting. It is therefore taken up individually.
Thus, joint session can be considered to be a constitutional provisions that has to be used wisely. The Lok Sabha’s functioning rules are followed during joint sitting and Speaker of Lok Sabha presides over the session.