(1) The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.
(2) The President may from time to time —
(a) prorogue the Houses or either House;
(b) dissolve the House of the People.
Article 69, Draft Constitution 1948
(1) The Houses of Parliament shall be summoned to meet twice at least in every year, and six months shall not intervene between their last sitting in one session and the date appointed for their first sitting in the next session.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this article, the President may from time to time-
(a) Summon the Houses or either House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit;
(b) Prorogue the Houses;
(c) Dissolve the House of the People.
Draft Article 69 (Article 85, Constitution of India, 1950) was debated on 18 May 1949. It regulated the sessions of the Parliaments, its prorogation and dissolution.
A member proposed an amendment to replace ‘six months’ to ‘three months’ in clause 1. This would ensure that the Parliament met more often and spend more time on its business. He further sought to add a proviso to clause 1 to treat the Parliament’s annual session as ‘as a continuous single annual session’.
Another member moved an amendment to replace ‘twice’ to ‘thrice’ in clause 1. He accused the Drafting Committee of mindlessly copying this provision from the Government of India Act, 1935, without taking into account the nature of new, independent India’s polity. In support of this amendment, a member highlighted how during the budget session of the Parliament, other legislative matters were sidestepped. Having compulsory three sessions would allow the Parliament to attend to more legislative work. The Chairman of the Drafting Committee noted that the Draft Article did not prohibit the Parliament from meeting frequently. This provision merely ensured minimum parliamentary sittings. He believed that the Parliament would meet so often that the members would ‘probably themselves get tired of the sessions’. Moreover, the Parliament was not only responsible for ensuring ‘good administration’ but also to be responsible to the people and give effect to the majority government’s party mandate.
There was a proposal to allow either the Speaker of the House of the People or the Chairman of the Council of States to summon his/her respective houses in case the President failed to do so in three months. Coming from a place of suspicion in the President’s role, he argued that the Constitution must be prepared for all future contingencies. This amendment would ensure that the business of the Parliament could be carried as usual. The Chairman of the Drafting Committee did not believe that a President would disobey a constitutionally laid down obligation. Indeed, if he/she refused to convene the meeting then this would be a sufficient ground to impeach him/her.
The Assembly did not accept these proposals. It adopted the Draft Article on 18 May 1949.