What is Motion of Thanks ?

A motion of Thanks is a motion in Indian Parliament which follows the address of the President of India to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the commencement of the first session of a new Lok Sabha and the first session of every year.

What is Motion of Thanks to President’s Address?

The President makes a special address(a statement of government policy that has to be approved by the Cabinet) to a joint sitting of both Houses. The address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs and this is called ‘Motion of Thanks’.

When and why does the President address Parliament?

  • At the start of the first session after an election and at the first session each year generally during the budget session, the President makes a special address to a joint sitting of both Houses.
  • The address is a statement of government policy that has to be approved by the Cabinet. The President emphasizes the legislative and policy activities and achievements during the previous year and gives a broad indication of the agenda for the following.

This address is followed by a Motion of Thanks, which is moved in each house by an MP of the ruling party. Who will move and second the Motion? This is decided by the Prime Minister and the notice of such a motion is received through the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. The deliberations on this motion last for three to four days. The deliberations allow the opposition to critically discuss the government’s vision, scope, and policies. At the end of these discussions, the Prime Minister gives replies to the points or questions raised.  

Following the PM’s response, MPs vote on the motion of thanks and some may move amendments to the address.

However, before such voting, some members may also move an amendment to the address. Such amendments may be:

  • for emphasizing or adding issues addressed by the president
  • for including some issues or highlight some issues which did not find mention in the speech

There have already been three instances so far when the Motion of Thanks was adopted by Rajya Sabha with some amendments, once each during the tenures of Indira Gandhi, V.P. Singh, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The first instance of such an amendment to the Motion of Thanks came in 1980 on the issue of engineering defections. The second was in 1989, when six amendments — including on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute and the India-Sri Lanka accord — were approved. The third occasion was in 2001, when the House adopted an amendment on the sale of a public sector undertaking, Balco, to a private company. These were all politically contentious issues.

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