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Supreme Court to decide what it means to adjourn House

A bench of chief justice KG Balakrishnan and justices SH Kapadia, RV Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam will take a final call on RPI-A chief Ramdas Athawale’s petition.

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Supreme Court to decide what it means to adjourn House
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Whether the first meeting of Lok Sabha each year is continuation of its last session even if the speaker had adjourned the House sine die? Should the first meeting be also considered its first session, requiring the president’s address to both Houses of parliament? The Supreme Court (SC) will decide on Monday.

A bench of chief justice KG Balakrishnan and justices SH Kapadia, RV Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam will take a final call on RPI-A chief Ramdas Athawale’s petition filed in 2004, when the UPA government began its first term following the NDA’s defeat at the hustings.

Athawale has questioned erstwhile Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s decision to treat the first meeting of the House in January 2004 as a continuation of the winter session adjourned sine die on December 23, 2003.

He said since the winter session was adjourned, it couldn’t be termed continuation when the House met for the first time in 2004.

He also contended that the first meeting of Lok Sabha each year had to be considered the first session of parliament requiring the president’s address to both Houses.

In its concluding observations, SC had remarked, “There is a difference between adjourning proceedings and proroguing the House.”

Only when the House is prorogued, parliament takes the president’s assent to commence proceedings, it said.

When the House is merely adjourned, the speaker issues notices to members to restart the session, the judges told Athawale’s counsel HK Puri.

Puri, however, asserted that article 87 of the Constitution said that the first session of the House each year had to be addressed by the president and the expressions of the article needed to be given a meaning.

Attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati sought dismissal of Athawale’s lawsuit, saying it lacked merit and the speaker had decided the issue in 2004 itself. Vahanvati also termed “absurd” Athawale’s contention that the first meeting of the House each year should be treated as the first session.

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