No Confidence Motion: How does it work?
What is a No Confidence Motion?
A government can only hold power in a parliamentary democracy if it has a majority in the directly elected House. This principle is embodied in Article 75(3) of the Indian Constitution, which states that the Council of Ministers is jointly accountable to the Lok Sabha. This is an important part of Indian Polity and also a tool in the hands of the opposition to keep checks and balances.
The No Confidence Motion is not directly addressed in any clause of the Indian Constitution. The Lok Sabha is the Council of Ministers' sole source of accountability, according to Article 75. There is no mention of the No-confidence Motion in the Constitution and the same was introduced in the rule book under the powers of making rules.
As the name itself suggest that the ruling Government has to have the confidence of the house. Since the Parliament’s Lower House is constituted by the representatives elected by the people of India, therefore, it is termed as the house of people of India, and any ruling Government has to have the confidence of the members.
To save the Government and the motion, the ruling party has to have more than 50% of the strength of the MP present in the house at the time of voting.
How does the No Confidence Motion work?
As per the system evolved in the Indian Parliament and the rules made thereunder ‘No Confidence Motion’ can be brought into the Lok Sabha (Lower House) only.
In accordance with Rule 198 of the Lok Sabha Rule, a precise procedure must be followed in order to pass a motion of no confidence. The Indian Constitution does not contain a Confidence or No Confidence Motion Article. However, Article 75 of the Indian Constitution mandates that the Council of Ministers be jointly accountable to the Lok Sabha. The No Confidence Motion may be presented to the Lok Sabha if it gets the support of 50 MPs or more (exclusively from the Opposition).
In accordance with Rule 198 (1) (a), the Speaker may call a meeting of the members to request permission to introduce the proposal. Rule 198 (1)(b) states that the opposition members asking the motion must give formal notice to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General before 10 AM on the proposal day. If the proposal cannot be completed by that time, it must be submitted by 10 AM the following day. For presenting the motion, it must be supported by at least 50 Members of the Parliament so that it is neither misused nor used as a matter of routine course.
As per Rule 198 (3) of Lok Sabha Rule 198, the Speaker of Lok Sabha may permit a portion of the day, an entire day, or a number of days to discuss the motion after the leave for the motion is granted. As per Rule 198(4), the Speaker has to ask questions at the designated hour on the day designated for discussion on the motion in order to control the house’s decision. The Speaker also has the power and authority to set a time restriction for discussion under Rule 198(5). The government must leave the office for further action if the motion is approved in the House.
The History of 'No Confidence Motions' in India
The no-confidence motion, however, has historically been employed as a tactical instrument to compel discussion on a particular subject or issue. Despite being aware that it lacks the necessary number of votes, the opposition has nonetheless introduced the resolution to compel the administration to address its concerns regarding the situation in Manipur.
After that, there is a discussion over the motion. The Treasury Benches respond to the concerns raised by the MPs who support the motion by pointing out the weaknesses of the government. The proposal is then put to a vote; if it passes, the government is obligated to resign.
The First no-confidence motion in the history of independent India was brought against the Jawahar Lal Nehru Government in August, 1963 by Aacharya J.B. Kripalani in the 3rd Lok Sabha. He was MP from Praja Socialist Party. This was done after the Indo-China War of 1962. The debate on the first motion lasted for 21 hours over four days, with 40 MPs participating in the same.
The first motion is also famous for the reply Prime Minister Nehru has given. He said in his reply that:-
“A no-confidence motion aims at or should aim at removing the party in government and taking its place. It is clear in the present instance that there was no such expectation or hope. And so the debate, although it was interesting in many ways and, I think profitable too, was a little unreal. Personally, I have welcomed this motion and this debate. I have felt that it would be a good thing if we were to have periodical tests of this kind.”
SINCE independence total of 27 times no conference motions have been brought in the parliament. Out of these 15 were brought only against Indira Gandhi but none were successful. 2 no-confidence motions were brought against the Jawahar Lal Nehru Government they were also unsuccessful. After Indira Gandhi, one confidence motion was brought against the Government led by Morarji Desai in 1979, and lost this motion and had to resign as the Prime Minister of the Country.
Out of the total 27 no-confidence motions brought by the opposition against the ruling governments it has happened only three times that these no-confidence motions were successful, otherwise, all of them have been defeated. The 2nd successful no-confidence motion was against the VP Singh Government and the 3rd such motion was brought against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Government in 1999 which he lost by one vote. This was the closest tie in the history. In 2003 also a no-confidence motion was moved against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government by the Congress but the motion was defeated.
A motion of no confidence was brought forth in 1979 to challenge Chaudhary Charan Singh's leadership. Following his resignation and recommendation that the Lok Sabha be dissolved to the President, Chaudhary Charan Singh.
The recent No-confidence motion moved by the Congress Party would be the first motion in the new parliament which is supported by many opposition parties. This is nothing but an exercise by them to make Prime Minister Modi speak in Parliament.