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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.

85. "Session of Parliament, prorogation and dissolution"

85. "Sessions of Parliament, prorogation and dissolution.- (1) The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.

(2) The President may from time to time -

(a) prorogue the Houses or either House;

(b) dissolve the House of the People."

The framers of the Constitution were not satisfied with the original provisions under Article 85. This is the reason they substituted its provisions by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 with effect from 18 th June, 1951 which provided for the provisional Parliament and the Supreme Court has stamped it as constitutionally valid.

Article 85 has two clauses. The first clause envisages the summoning by the President of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit. This clause also provides that there shall not be more than six months gap between the date of last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.

The second clause fully empowers without any hurdle to the President to prorogue both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha or either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. He also has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha. As the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body he lacks such power in respect of the Rajya Sabha.

In practice, such power of President does not work full-fledgedly, because of the Parliamentary procedure and the Cabinet acts in different ways making the President House as a House with a mere rubber stamp. In this respect it can be said that "no Constitution in the world ever is perfect and Constitution of India is no exception to this universal rule." Article 85 only encompasses the democratic and republican factor with some actors who are very powerful, some less powerful and some not powerful, but all are designated authorities.

This Article has been fully cultured in case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain , AIR 1975 SC 2299 and U.N.R. Rao v. Indira Gandhi , AIR 1971 SC 1002.

In case of Raj Narain, in para 180 Justice Khanna observed: "The contention that the sittings of the two Houses of Parliament in which the impugned acts were passed were not valid essentially relates to the validity of the proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament. These are matters which are not justiciable and pertain to the internal domain of the two Houses. Of course, the courts can go into the question as to whether the measures passed by the Parliament are constitutionally valid. The court cannot, however, go into the question as to whether the sittings to the Houses of Parliament were not constitutionally valid because some members of those Houses were prevented from attending and participating in the discussions in those Houses."

This observation of Justice Khanna covers the marginal notes of Article 85 viz. sessions, prorogation and dissolution of the Parliament and its elaborate provisions.

In U.N.R. Rao case it was contended that under the Constitution as soon as the House of People is dissolved under Article 85(2) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers, i.e. the Prime Minister and other Ministers, cease to hold office. This follows plainly from the wordings of Article 75(3) (related Article), which provides that "The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of People." The Supreme Court held: "How can the Council of Ministers be responsible to the House of People when it has been dissolved under Article 85(2)."

This observation of the Supreme Court in U.N.R. Rao case though not exaggeratedly discussed Article 85, gave a touchstone to the case in the matter of dissolution of House by the then powerful Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Moreover, Article 85 does not confer any right on any members of the Parliament nor imposes any liability. But it refers to the veto-power-rights of the President of India to summon the Parliament and to address either House or both the Houses of Parliament.


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