Debates during the Constitution First Amendment Bill regarding amendment of Article 85 and Article 174

35. The original Articles 85 and 174 as they stood prior to first Constitution Amendment and after the Amendment read as follows :

Article Original Articles in the Constitution As amended by Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1951
Article 85 Sessions of Parliament, Prorogation and Dissolution. (1) The Houses of Parliament shall be summoned to meet twice at least in every year, and six months shall not intervene between their last sitting in one session and the date appointed for their first sitting in the next session. (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 first sitting in the next session.
(2) Subject to the provisions of Cl. (1), the President may from time to time- (2) The President may from time to
(a) Summon the Houses or either House to meet at such time and Place as he thinks fit; (a) Prorogue the Houses of either House
(b) Prorogue the Houses; (b) Dissolve the House of the People
(c) Dissolve the house of the People
Article 174 Sessions of the State Legislature Prorogation and Dissolution (1) The House or Houses of the State shall be summoned to meet twice at least in every year, and six months shall not intervene between their last sitting in one session and the date appointed for their first sitting in the next session. 1) The Governor shall from time to summon the House or each House to the Legislature of the State 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 first sitting in the next session.
(2) Subject to the provisions of Cl. (1), the Governor may from time to time (2) The President may from time to-
(a) summon the house or either House to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit; (a) Prorogue the Houses of either House
(b) prorogue the House or Houses (b) Dissolve the House of the People

36. The aforesaid original Articles show that what was mandated was that the Houses of Parliament and State Legislature were required to meet at least twice in a year and six months shall not intervene between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for their first sitting in the next session. This resulted in absurdity. If it was found that the session then had been going on continuously for 12 months, technically, it could have been contended that the Parliament had not met twice in that year at all as there must be prorogation in order that there may be new session and, therefore, the original Article 174(1) resulted in contradictions. In order to remove the said absurdity, the First Amendment Bill for amendment of Articles 85 and 174 was moved. While introducing the First Amendment Bill, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru stated thus :

“. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . one of the Articles mentions that the House shall meet at least twice every year and the President shall address it. Now a possible interpretation of that is that this House has not met at all this year. It is an extraordinary position considering that this time this House has laboured more than probably at any time in the previous history of this or the preceding Parliament in this country. We have been practically sitting with an interval round about Xmas since November and we are likely to carry on and yet it may be held by some acute interpreters that we have not met at all this year strictly in terms of the Constitution because we started meeting in November and we have not met again – it has not been prorogued the President has not addressed the Parliament this year. Put in the extreme way, suppose this House met for the full year without break except short breaks, it worked for 12 months, then it may be said under the strict letter of the law that it has not met all this year. Of course that Article was meant not to come in the way of our work but to come in the way of our leisure. It was indeed meant and it must meet at least twice a year and there should not be more than six months interval between the meetings. It did not want any Government of the day to simply sit tight without the House meeting.”.

37. While intervening in the debate, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stated thus :

“. . . . . . . . . . . . due to the word summon, the result is that although Parliament may sit for the whole year adjourning from time to time, it is still capable of being said that Parliament has been summoned only once and not twice. There must be prorogation in order that there may be a new session. It is felt that this difficulty should be removed and consequently the first part of it has been deleted. The provision that whenever there is a prorogation of Parliament, the new session shall be called within six months is retained.”

38. Even other members of the Parliament who participated in the debate with regard to the proposed amendment of Article 85 and Article 174 were concerned only with the current session and working of the existing House of the People. The proceedings of the debate further show that the entire debate revolved around prorogation and summoning. There was no discussion as regards dissolution or Constitution of the House at all and the amendment was sought to remove the absurdity which has crept into the original Articles 85 and 174. For these reasons we are of the view that Art. 174(1) is inapplicable to a dissolved Assembly.

Special Reference No. 1 of 2002. [ALL SC 2002 October ]