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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.


87. "Special address by the President.- (1) 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.

(2) Provision shall be made by the rules regulating the procedure of either House for the allotment of time for discussion of the matters referred to in such address."

A plain reading of this Article clearly suggests that: (a) the President of India shall address at the commencement of the first session after each general (parliamentary) election to the Lok Sabha; and (b) at the commencement of the first session of each year.

The scheme of the Constitution, as is evident from the compendium of Articles reveals that Union Parliament consists of the President and Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of People (Lok Sabha). Unless dissolved earlier, the House of People continues for 5 years from the date of its first meeting, and the expiration of 5 years operates as a dissolution of the House except during the Proclamation of Emergency, where the period of 5 years may be extended for a period not exceeding one year and not extending in any case beyond 6 months after such Proclamation has ceased to operate.

In this Article the important words are "first session of the year" and these words have no reference to resumption of adjourned session. The session commences with the President's summoning the House to meet. It is Article 85 which deals with the summoning of sessions of the Parliament, prorogation and dissolution of the House of People. The constitutional provision does not require summoning of every session of Parliament which has adjourned for its own reasons after commencement of its session pursuant to summons of the President. It is only when a House is prorogued and a new session thereafter is summoned under Article 85(2) of the Constitution, the special address by the President as provided for under Article 87(1) is required with reference to the new session so as to inform the Parliament of the cause of its summons. No such special address is needed, if a session is adjourned sine a die in the previous year and the sittings of the same session is resumed in the next year.

The present constitutional status is that no more than 6 months are to elapse between the last session and the first day of the following session. The House is now prorogued only once a year and the President addresses both Houses of Parliament only at the commencement of the first session of each year.

Thus Article 87 has once been amended by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 by the provisional Parliament which substituted and omitted some words in the Article and this amended position has come to litigation in the Supreme Court in case of Ramdas Athawale v. Union of India , AIR 2010 SC 1310 vide Writ Petition (Civil) No. 86 of 2004 and decided on 29 th March, 2010.


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