Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rights of Ministers and Attorney-General as respects Houses

"Rights of Ministers and Attorney-General as respects Houses.- Every Minister and the Attorney-General for India shall have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of either House, any joint sitting of the Houses, and any committee of Parliament of which he may be named a member, but shall not by virtue of this Article be entitled to vote."
Article 88 lays down that so far as the parliamentary position of the Attorney-General for India is concerned he is in parallel post to Minister in Parliament. This Article says every Minister and the Attorney-General has the right to speak in Parliament and can participate in proceedings of it and can also take part in joint sitting of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and in any of Parliamentary Committees, in which he is named as member but has no right to vote.
This provision in the Constitution of India is unlike that of the British Parliament.
In British Parliament, the Ministers who are members in one House cannot address the other House. In our Constitution this Article and Article 177 confer upon every Minister a right to address any House, or either House and otherwise take part in the proceedings but by virtue of these two Articles a Minister does not have a right to vote. This provision also covers the case of a Minister who is not a Member of any House for a period of six months within which he must become a member of one House or the other.
These two Articles also confer on the Attorney-General for India a right to take part in the proceedings of either House or its Committees but provide that he shall not vote by reason of the right conferred by these two Articles. The right of a Minister to address a House of which he is not a member and the right of the Attorney-General to address both the Houses without being under an obligation to be a member of the legislature at all, would raise the question whether the Ministers and Law officers are entitled to the privileges of the legislature.
In case of Harshan Verma v. Union of India , AIR 1987 SC 1969 it was held that to appoint a non-member of the Parliament as a Minister does not militate against the constitutional mechanism nor against the democratic principle embodied in the Constitution. The combined effect of Articles 75 and 88 is that a person not being a member of either House of Parliament can be a Minister upto a period of six months; though he would not have any right to vote, he would be entitled to participate in the proceedings thereof.

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