The History and Importance of the President’s Address

After taking office, President Droupadi Murmu addressed the joint sitting of Parliament for the first time.

President’s Message: What is the background?

  • The United Kingdom: The monarch addressing Parliament first occurred in the 16th century.
  • In 1790, President George Washington addressed Congress for the first time.

President’s Address in India

(A) Colonial period

  • The practise of the President addressing Parliament in India was established following the promulgation of the Government of India Act in 1919.
  • Address of the Governor General: The GG was granted the right to address the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State under this law.
  • There was no provision in the law for a joint address, but the Governor-General addressed both the Assembly and the Council on multiple occasions.
  • During the Constituent Assembly: There was NO address to the Constituent Assembly between 1947 and 1950. (Legislative).

(B) After the enactment of Constitution

  • After the Constitution came into force, President Rajendra Prasad addressed members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the first time on January 31, 1950.
  • The President and Governor were given the authority to address a legislative session under the terms of the Constitution.
  • Article 87: It specifies two special occasions when the President may address a joint session. The first is to address the first session of a newly elected legislature following a general election. The second is to speak at each year’s first sitting of Parliament. A session of a new or continuing legislature cannot begin unless this requirement is met.
  • Making it an annual event: As a result, President Prasad delivered an address before each session of the provisional Parliament in 1950. The First Amendment to the Constitution was amended in 1951, making the President’s address an annual event.

What is the procedure and what is the custom?

  • Motion of Thanks: Following the President’s address, the two Houses pass a motion thanking the President for her remarks.
  • Discussion of the speech: This is an opportunity for MPs in both Houses to hold a broad debate on the country’s governance.
  • PM responds to the following inquiries: The Prime Minister then addresses the issues raised by MPs and responds to the motion of thanks.
  • Unanimous voting: The motion is then put to a vote, and MPs can express their dissatisfaction by introducing amendments to it.
  • Amendment Potential: On five occasions, opposition MPs were successful in getting amendments to the motion of thanks passed in Rajya Sabha, including in 1980, 1989, 2001, 2015, and 2016.

The content of the address

  • The format of the President’s or Governor’s speech is not fixed.
  • Prof K T Shah wanted the President’s address to be more specific when drafting the Constitution.
  • He suggested that the language be changed to specify that the President shall inform Parliament “on the general state of the Union including financial proposals, and other particular issues of policy he deems suitable for such address”.
  • His proposal was inspired by the US Constitution.
  • However, Prof Shah’s amendment was rejected by the Constituent Assembly.

What is the role of the government?

  • The government wrote: The President’s speech is essentially the government’s point of view, and it is also written by the government.
  • Contributions from various ministries: Typically, in December, the Prime Minister’s Office requests that the various ministries begin submitting input for the speech.
  • Information gathering: The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs sends a message requesting information from ministries on any legislative proposals that should be included in the President’s address. All of this data is compiled and shaped into a speech, which is then delivered to the President.
  • The role of the Lok Sabha Secretariat: The address is a ceremonial event, and the Lok Sabha Secretariat makes extensive preparations for it.

The importance of the address

  • Policy announcements: The President’s address is used by the government to make policy and legislative announcements.
  • Government performance evaluation: It highlights the previous year’s accomplishments and establishes the broad governance agenda for the coming year.

What if the President disagrees with the speech’s text?


  • The President or Governor may not refuse to fulfil the constitutional duty of addressing the legislature.
  • However, there may be occasions when they deviate from the text of the government-prepared speech.
  • There have been no instances of a President doing so thus far.

Recent instances of defiance

  • A Governor has occasionally skipped or changed a portion of his or her address to the Assembly.
  • Recently, the Governor of Tamil Nadu changed the prepared speech he read in the Assembly.
  • The TN Chief Minister had to step in and propose a resolution requiring that only the original speech given to the Governor be recorded.
  • During his address to the Assembly in 2020, Kerala Governor stopped before reading paragraph 18, which related to the Kerala government’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Why it is so cherished in democracy?

  • The President’s address is one of the most solemn occasions on the Parliamentary calendar. It is the only time during the year when the entire Parliament, including the President, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha, meets.
  • Ceremonial event: The event is associated with protocol and ceremony. The Lok Sabha Secretariat works hard to prepare for this annual event.
  • Grandeur: Previously, the ceremonial procession required 150 yards of red baize cloth from the President’s residence.
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