he Constitution of a country comprises both written rules enforced by courts, and unwritten rules or principles necessary for constitutional government. Written rules mandate that they be followed in a particular specified situation, while unwritten rules come into play when the situation at hand is not covered by the written rules.
History of Parliamentary Conventions
- The Constituent Assembly decided to adopt a parliamentary system of government of the British type. The principles of the parliamentary system of government in England are dependent upon the conventions of the constitution.
- The Parliamentary System of Government is adopted from the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom.
Features of Parliamentary Conventions
- Conventions are rules that define non-legal rights, powers and obligations of office-holders in the three branches of Government, or the relations between governments or government organs.
- Conventions in most cases can be stated only in general terms, their applicability in some circumstances being clear, but in other circumstances uncertain and debatable.
- The constitution framers deliberately left certain matters and decisions for the discretion of the contemporary leaders and governments, thereby leading to the birth of constitutional conventions.
- They are distinguishable from rules of law, though they may be equally important, or more important. They may modify the application or enforcement of rules of law.
- In certain instances, constitutional conventions are more important than written constitutional provisions. For example, the President is empowered by the Constitution to appoint the Prime Minister, but the Constitution provides no guidance as to who should be appointed as Prime Minister. Here conventions regarding the appointment of the Prime Minister play an important role in guiding the President.
- Occasionally a new convention may be agreed in order to resolve a specific procedural issue that has arisen.
- [Eg: Since 1967, a convention has developed whereby the chairman of the public accounts committee is selected invariably from the Opposition].
Examples of Parliamentary Conventions
- Governor’s role in appointment of Chief Minister in case of hung assembly.
- Convention of Governors acting as Chancellors of Universities and holding other statutory positions.
- Classification of Council of Ministers into 3 tier body and the role of Union Cabinet in decision making.
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives some of his powers and duties from the parliamentary conventions.
- The office and role of whip in the parliament.