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Home / Punjab / Decoding the House jargon

Decoding the House jargon

As the three-day monsoon session of 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha (assembly) got underway on Friday, HT explains the meaning of frequently used terms/phrases during the proceedings.

punjab Updated: Aug 25, 2018 09:47 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
(HT File )

As the three-day monsoon session of 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha (assembly) got underway on Friday, HT explains the meaning of frequently used terms/phrases during the proceedings.

Adjournment motion

If the opposition wants to censure the government on a particular issue of immediate public importance, then it can move an adjournment motion. If the speaker allows this motion, then the routine business of the House is set aside for discussing the matter.

House adjourned

It’s a temporary suspension of the proceedings by the speaker in case there is a ruckus/disruption in the House.

Breach of privilege motion

The House and its members enjoy certain rights and immunities. A notice can be moved in the form of a motion against anyone for breach of privilege of a member, the House or its committees for ‘casting reflections’ on his/their conduct. The notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence. The Vidhan Sabha’s Privilege Committee looks into the motion. It is a punishable offence.

Calling attention motion

This allows a member to call the attention of a minister to any matter of urgent public importance, and the minister can make a statement regarding it or ask for time during the same session to answer it. It can be allowed only with the prior permission of the speaker.


The speaker has the power to delete any word or statement of any MLA/minister from the Vidhan Sabha proceedings’ official records. The media is barred from reporting the expunged matter.

Point of order

It is an interjection a member can make through appeal to the speaker for clarification on a matter during a debate in the House. If allowed, the member must explain the reason for believing the rules of the House have been broken. The speaker decides whether or not it is a valid point of order.

Sine die

When the House is adjourned sine die it means adjourned for an indefinite period. Since the House has to be called within six months, sine die usually means till the next session.


It is the order passed by the governor to terminate a Vidhan Sabha session without dissolving it. Usually, the governor issues a notification for the prorogation of the session after a few days of the House being adjourned sine die by the presiding officer. The House can be prorogued by the governor even while in session.

Starred question

An MLA may ask a starred question if he desires an oral answer on the floor of the House to which he can also put up supplementary questions. It is distinguished by an asterisk mark and usually both the minister and the member are present in the House when it comes up.

Also read:Punjab AAP factions spar over seats, efforts to broker peace in vain

Unstarred question

Answers to such questions are not given orally, but in a written form. There are separate forms for both types of questions and no supplementary can be asked.

Question hour

It is the first hour in every sitting of a House session. During this time, the starred and unstarred questions sent by MLAs are answered by the ministry concerned. Its duration cannot exceed an hour.

Treasury benches

It refers to the front rows, on the right of the speaker, occupied by the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues. The term is loosely used for the ruling party in the House.


It refers to leaving of the House by opposition MLAs as an expression of protest or disapproval over any matter during the session.

Well of the house

It is the centre or the nodal point in the assembly hall in front of speaker’s table where the secretarial staff sits to record the proceedings of that House. The members, mainly of opposition benches, go to the well of the House to attract notice from the speaker, protest or express disagreement with him or the government. If they create disorder beyond a point, the speaker can order their physical eviction by the assembly’s watch and ward staff.

Zero hour

Going by precedent, it follows the question hour. The discretion to allow it and its duration is the prerogative of the speaker and it usually ranges between half an hour to an hour. It is so called as in the morning sitting of the House, it starts exactly at noon after the question hour ends. It gives members, mainly of the opposition benches, an opportunity to draw the attention of the House to a pressing issue of public interest.