Quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present in the House (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) before it can transact any business. It is one-tenth of the total number of members in each House including the presiding officer. It means that there must be at least 55 members present in the Lok Sabha and 25 members present in the Rajya Sabha, if any business is to be conducted. If there is no quorum during a meeting of the House, it is the duty of the presiding officer either to adjourn the House or to suspend the meeting until there is a quorum.
It refers to the last session of the existing Lok Sabha, after a new Lok Sabha has been elected. Those members of the existing Lok Sabha who could not get re-elected to the new Lok Sabha are called lame-ducks.
The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the members ask questions and the ministers usually give answers. The questions are of three kinds, namely, starred, unstarred and short notice.
- A starred question (distinguished by an asterisk) requires an oral answer and hence supplementary questions can follow.
- An unstarred question, on the other hand, requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.
- A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice if less than ten days. It is answered orally.
Unlike the question hour, the zero hour is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure. Thus it is an informal device available to the members of the Parliament to raise matters without any prior notice. The zero hour starts immediately after the question hour and last until the agenda for the day is taken up. In other words, the time gap between the question hour and the agenda is known as zero hour. It is an Indian innovation in the field of parliamentary procedures and has been in existence since 1962.