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I. Rules for Functioning under Emergency Measures

India’s federal legislative branch consists of the President, the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) as the upper house, and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) as the lower house. The two houses constitute India’s bicameral Parliament.

Lokh Sabha proceedings are regulated by the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.[1] Rajya Sabha proceedings are regulated by the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).[2] There do not appear to be any special rules for the operation of the Parliament in emergency situations.

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II. Arrangements for an “Emergency” Parliament

There does not appear to be any arrangement in Parliament for a designated subgroup of members to constitute a kind of “emergency” parliament with devolved powers from the whole Parliament to address crisis situations. Article 100 of the Constitution of India stipulates that the quorum requirement for both houses of Parliament “shall be one-tenth of the total number of members of the House.”[3]

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III. Adjustments to Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The central government adjourned the Lok Sabha on March 23, 2020, 12 days before Parliament’s Budget Session was supposed to end. Before the session ended, the Lokh Sabha passed the Finance Bill, which has to be cleared before March 31, 2020, to “put into effect the government’s budget and tax proposals.”[4] The Rajya Sabh quickly returned the Bill back to the Lok Sabha on the same day to be in conformity with special procedure for money bills under article 109(2) of the Indian Constitution.[5] The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, has said the “decision was taken so that everybody can practice social distancing.”[6] This was after there was “pressure from many opposition parties and indications from the ruling side amid a rapid uptick in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases across the country, leading to official lockdown in Delhi and other┬ástates.”[7]

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Prepared by Tariq Ahmad
Foreign Law Specialist
March 2020

[1] Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha (15th ed., 2014),

[2] Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) (9th ed., Aug. 2016),

[3] Constitution of India, ch. II, art. 100,

[4] Moushumi Das Gupta, Lok Sabha Session Ends 12 Days before Schedule as Coronavirus Puts India under Lockdown, The Print (Mar. 23, 2020),

[5] Article 109(2) stipulates that “[a]fter a Money Bill has been passed by the House of the People it shall be transmitted to the Council of States for its recommendations and the Council of States shall within a period of fourteen days from the date of its receipt of the Bill return the Bill to the House of the People with its recommendations and the House of the People may thereupon either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Council of States.” See also Saubhadra Chatterji, Why Govt Has to Race Against Time to Pass The Finance Bill, Hindustan Times (Mar. 23, 2020),

[6] Chatterji, supra note 5.

[7] Session to be Curtailed after Finance Bill is Passed, The Economic Times (Mar. 23, 2020),

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020