FPJ Fast Facts: What is voice vote and how often it is used in Parliament

The Rajya Sabha on Sunday voted by voice vote to pass two agricultural bills amid strong protests from the opposition.

Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were put to vote by Deputy Chairman Harivansh amid the uproar and slogan-shouting by the opposition members.

Denying the demand of opposition MPs for the division of votes, Harivansh said it cannot be sought from the well of the House and insisted they should first return to their seats.

What is voice vote?

All members of the House collectively take a decision in the Parliament, whether it is about passing a Bill or extending working hours. This can be done by two methods - whether by by voice vote or division.

In voice vote, members orally communicate their agreement or disagreement with the proposed motion by responding to Speaker's question. When a motion is put for vote, the speaker says, "Those in the favour of the motion say Aye and those opposing it say No." The Speaker then takes a call on which voice was the loudest and declares "the ayes have it" or "the noes have it," depending upon the outcome.

If a member is not happy with a voice vote, it can be challenged and a division can be asked for, according to mechanism of voting and recording of votes in Parliament by PRS Legislative Research.

How often is voice vote used in Parliament:

Voice vote is usually the preferred method of voting in both Houses of Parliament. However, it is usually done when there is a likely consensus or broad agreement on a motion or the bill. Contentious bills are rarely passed by voice vote as there is no clarity about the number of members voting for or and against the Bill.

Division of vote

If a member of the House is not satisfied with the outcome of the voice vote, he or she can ask for division. According to PRS India, the procedure for division entails the Speaker to announce for the lobbies of Parliament to be cleared. Then the division bell rings continuously for three and a half minutes and so do many connected bells all through Parliament House and Parliament House Annexe. MPs come from all sides into the chamber and the doors are closed. The votes are recorded by the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment.

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