The President’s address to both Houses of Parliament

• The President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget Session every year is a Constitutional requirement.

• Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”

• Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”.

• This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru argued in Parliament that it was too cumbersome to have the President, complete with the entire paraphernalia that his office carries, address the Houses every time they met.

Important highlights of the President’s address

• The President’s Address at the beginning of the first session each year takes place at the time and date notified for the commencement of the session.

• Barring some exceptions in the early years of the Republic, it has generally taken place at 11 am.

• The President reads the Address either in English or in Hindi.

• After the conclusion of the Address, there is a roll of drums followed by the National Anthem.

• Half an hour after the President has finished speaking, the two Houses assemble separately in their respective Chambers for the transaction of formal business.

• The Rajya Sabha Secretariat records one instance of the first session of the year not commencing with the President’s Address.

• The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year.

• It is drafted by the Cabinet, and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.

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Mains Paper 2: Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure

Prelims level: Presidents Address

Mains level: Importance of Presidents Address in parliamentary democracy

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