- The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the members ask questions and the ministers usually give answers.
- It is regulated according to parliamentary rules. The presiding officers of the both Houses (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) are the final authority with respect to the conduct of Question Hour.
Types of Questions
- The questions are of three kinds, namely, starred, unstarred and short notice.
- A starred question (distinguished by an asterisk) requires an oral answer and hence supplementary questions can follow.
- An unstarred question, on the other hand, requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.
- A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally.
- The list of starred, unstarred, short notice questions and questions to private members are printed in green, white, light pink and yellow colour, respectively, to distinguish them from one another.
- In addition to the ministers, the questions can also be asked to the private members. Thus, a question may be addressed to a private member if the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that member is responsible. The procedure in regard to such question is the same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a minister.
Frequency: Question Hour in both Houses is held on all days of the session. But there are two days when an exception is made.
- When the President addresses MPs from both Houses.
- The President’s speech takes place at the beginning of a new Lok Sabha and on the first day of a new Parliament year.
- On the day the Finance Minister presents the Budget.
- Zero Hour is an Indian parliamentary innovation. It is not mentioned in the parliamentary rules book.
- Under this, MPs can raise matters without any prior notice.
- The zero hour starts immediately after the question hour and lasts until the agenda for the day (i.e. regular business of the House) is taken up.
- In other words, the time gap between the question hour and the agenda is known as zero hour.