Explainer: I had asked two questions, it was removed.. Rahul Gandhi made allegations in Parliament, know the rule of questioning for question hour

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Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday that he had sought written answers from the government on three questions in the Lok Sabha regarding the farmers’ movement and agriculture. The government removed the first two questions and answered the third one, even if it was ‘equivocal’. The Congress leader has termed it a ‘joke’. So is it necessary for the government to answer every question asked by a member in Parliament? If not necessary, on what basis are the questions accepted or rejected for answering? Is this the first time that the government has removed the question asked by an MP? How many types of questions are there and what are the rules related to them? Let’s understand.

Subramanian Swamy and KC Venugopal’s questions were also rejected
In both the houses of Parliament, MPs have got the right to ask questions from all the ministries and departments. During the Question Hour, the ministers concerned answer those questions. But for these questions, there are duly rules that what kind of questions will be asked, what will be its procedure and what kind of questions can be rejected. Obviously, non-acceptance of questions is not uncommon. According to the rules, this has happened in the past as well, although it is rarely seen.

Two of my questions sent for question hour in Lok Sabha were dropped, alleges Rahul Gandhi
During the ongoing winter session of Parliament, questions from Congress MP KC Venugopal and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy were not accepted for answer. Both are members of Rajya Sabha. Swamy had raised the question of alleged Chinese intrusion on the LAC. He had asked whether the Chinese had crossed the LAC in Ladakh? Swamy himself had tweeted that his question was not allowed citing national interest.

On the other hand, Venugopal had asked whether NRIs were being harassed at the airport and sent back. Are officials asking some NRIs to stop supporting the farmers’ movement? The questions of these two MPs were not approved by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

Starred, Unstarred…Categories of Questions
Before knowing the procedure for asking questions, the rules regarding their acceptance or rejection, it is important to know what are the categories of questions asked in Parliament. Normally, the opening hour of the proceedings of both the Houses of the House is ‘Question Hour’ but when Hamid Ansari was the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, he fixed the time for Question Hour in the House from 12 noon to 1 pm.

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1- Starred Question ie Starred Question
If an MP wants the minister concerned to give an oral answer to his question, he asks a starred question. After the minister’s answer in the house, he can also ask supplementary questions to them.

2- Unstarred Question i.e. Unstarred Question
If every question remains starred, then most of the proceedings of the House will go on in question and answer. There will be no time left for discussion on Bills and other issues. Therefore, arrangements have been made for unstarred questions. In this, the concerned minister puts the written answer to the question on the table of the house. In this supplementary question i.e. Supplementary Question is not allowed.

3- Short notice question
There is a provision for such questions for matters of public importance and urgent matters. In this, a member can ask questions by giving at least 10 days notice. Such questions are called ‘Short Notice Questions’.

4- FAQs from Private Members (Non-official Members)
Under Rule 40 relating to the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and Rule 48 for the Rajya Sabha, a member may also ask a question to any other member. These questions should be related to the private member’s bill, motion or other subject of the member concerned.

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Rules relating to acceptance or rejection of questions
For a starred or unstarred question, the member is first asked by giving a notice of at least 15 days to the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha / Secretary General of Rajya Sabha. This is so that the Ministry concerned gets enough time to prepare the reply.

The second step is to check whether the questions are acceptable as per the rules or precedents. Rule number 41-44 in the Lok Sabha and rule number 47-50 in the Rajya Sabha states which questions can be accepted and which cannot.

what kind of question is not allowed

– Questions which contain conjecture, speculation or defamatory statements, or which refer to the official (ex-officio) position or character or conduct of a person other than his/her public status, shall not be accepted.

Questions that have already been answered or for which information is readily available will also not be accepted.

Questions relating to any matter pending in the Court or any Tribunal will also not be accepted.

Questions related to the issue under consideration in any Parliamentary Committee will also not be accepted.

Questions with derogatory references to countries with friendly relations with India are also not allowed.

Questions that involve personal attribution cannot be asked.

Those questions raising policy issues are not allowed, which are difficult to answer in a limited way.

– Questions should be limited in words i.e. short. Questions of more than 150 words cannot be asked in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, in Rajya Sabha this word limit is 100.

Questions related to trivial matters of administration and day-to-day affairs of the government will also not be accepted.

– The question should be to the point, limited and related to only one issue. Otherwise it will not be accepted. (Rules in Rajya Sabha)

Questions of a sensitive nature and which are likely to harm national security, national interest will not be accepted.

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Some questions were rejected in the last session also.
Even during the monsoon session this year, some questions of MPs were not cleared. One such question in the Rajya Sabha was related to the Pegasus espionage scandal. The government did not respond citing the matter being pending in the Supreme Court. Similarly, TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Shanta Chhetri had asked a question on ‘the position of Indians in the Democracy Index’ but the government did not answer the question on the grounds of sensitive nature.

Once the question is rejected, it is rejected, cannot be challenged.
Once a member’s question is rejected, it cannot be asked again. Information about this cannot be sought even through RTI as it is related to the prerogative of the House. Even the rejection of the question cannot be challenged in the court.

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