Zero Hour: It generally means midnight, or a time for a particular event to occur, like a military operation or something like that.
However, the Indian Parliament has other ideas whenever these two words are mentioned. Keep reading to find out what these ideas are.
In the country’s parliamentary system, Zero Hour is the time when the Members of Parliament (MPs) are able to raise Issues of Urgent Public Importance.
Also, in order to raise matters during the Zero Hour, the Members of Parliament must give the notice before 10 am to the Speaker/ Chairman on the day of the sitting.
The notice must declare the subject they wish to raise in the House. Moreover, the Speaker has the power to either decline or allow a Member to raise a matter of importance.
Zero Hour is not referred to in the Rules of Procedure. This makes it an unofficial device available to Members of Parliament to raise matters without any notice 10 days in advance due to the fact that the matters are of public importance and cannot wait for 10 days.
Reasons for it been called Zero Hour
In Indian parliamentary language, it is the time space between the end of Question Hour and the beginning of the regular business. Another principle is that it starts at 12 noon which is the zero hour of the clock.
The difference between Zero Hour and Question Hour.
- Question Hour:
This is a fitted first hour of each working day where the members ask questions and the ministers are duty bound to give the answers.
During the Question hour, the parliamentarians hold the Government responsible for their actions. They also put the government on trial for the act of omission or commission while acting under official duty.
During this hour, questions must follow any of the four kinds mentioned in the Rules of Policy.
A featured question (well known by an asterisk) needs an oral answer and extra questions can follow.
In a day, about 20 of such questions are addressed and the questioning member is allowed to ask up to 2 extra questions in response.
Other members can also ask questions on related issues but it is up to the choice of speaker.
An untouched question will need a written answer and therefore, extra questions cannot follow. Such questions also need to be submitted in 15 days advance. About 200 such questions are addressed daily during the session.
A sudden question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered vocally.
However, a private member question may be directed to a private member if the subject matter of the question relates to some purpose, Bill or other matter connected with the business of the House at which that member is responsible.
- Zero Hour:
This Hour is not mentioned in the Rules of Policy unlike the question hour. It is an Indian revolution which has been in existence since 1962.
It is an unofficial device available to the members of the Parliament to raise matters without any initial notice as earlier said.
Zero Hour starts after the question hour and lasts until the schedule for the day (regular business of the House) is taken up. Basically, the time space between the question hour and the schedule is what we call the zero hour.
Like it was stated earlier, Zero hour usually starts at 12 noon whereby Members of Parliament can raise their questions about issues of urgent public importance.
Interested MPs must give a notice before 10 AM to the speaker or Chairman (depending on the Parliament) for raising matters in Zero Hour on the day of raising issue.
However, the Presiding officer may decide to grant on merit at own choice based on merit and importance of the issue.
When was Zero Hour introduced into Indian Parliamentary System.
In the sixties, members of parliament used to introduce many pressing issues of national and global import after Question Hour.
During this time, a member introduced an issue about announcements of policy made by ministers outside the parliament when it was in session.
This act brought about a suggestion among other members who called for another provision for discussing important matters in the House.
This later led to the revolution that caused the creation of Zero Hour in the field of parliamentary procedures and has been in existence since 1962.