Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
President’s address to both Houses of Parliament
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: President’s address- what, when and how? Significance and other key features.
Context: On first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of the two Houses.
What does the Constitution say about this?
Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”
First Constitutional Amendment: Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
What is in President’s address?
The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year. It is drafted by the Cabinet, and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.
What procedures follow the address?
After the President or Governor delivers the address, a debate takes place not only on the contents of the address but also the broad issues of governance in the country. This then paves the way for discussion on the Budget.
If the President disagrees with the text of the speech, are they still bound to read it?
The President or a Governor cannot refuse to perform the constitutional duty of delivering an address to the legislature. But there can be situations when they deviate from the text of the speech prepared by the government.
So far, there have been no instances of President doing so. But there has been an occasion when a Governor skipped a portion of the address to the Assembly.
- In 1969, the Governor of West Bengal, Dharma Vira, skipped two paragraphs of the address prepared by the United Front government. The skipped portion described as unconstitutional the dismissal of the first United Front government by the Congress-ruled central government.
Are there parallels in other countries?
Similar provisions exist in other democracies.
- In the United States, it is referred to as the “State of the Union”. The phrase comes from an article in the US Constitution which specifies that the President, “from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
- In the United Kingdom, it is referred to as the Queen’s Speech and is part of the ceremony to mark the formal start of the parliamentary year.
Sources: Indian Express.