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A joint session or joint convention is, most broadly, when two normally-separate decision-making groups meet together, often in a special session or other extraordinary meeting, for a specific purpose.
Most often it refers to when both houses of a bicameral legislature sit together. A joint session typically occurs to receive foreign or domestic diplomats or leaders, or to allow both houses to consider bills together.
Some Constitutions give special power to a joint session, voting by majority of all Members of the Legislature regardless of which House/ chamber they belong to. For example, in Switzerland a joint session of the two houses elects the members of the Federal Council (cabinet). In India, disputes between Houses are resolved by a joint sitting but without an intervening election.
In the Australian federal parliament, a joint sitting can be held, under certain conditions, to overcome a deadlock between the two houses. For a deadlock to be declared, a bill has to be rejected twice by the Senate at an interval of at least three months, after which a double dissolution election can be held. If, following the election, the new Parliament is still unable to pass the bill, it may be considered by a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and must achieve an absolute majority of the total number of members and senators in order to pass. The only example of this occurring was the Joint Sitting of the Australian Parliament of 1974 under the Whitlam Labor government, at which six deadlocked bills were passed.
Because the House has twice as many members as the Senate, the former has an advantage in a joint sitting. However the voting system used for the Senate before 1949, which might be called "Multiple At Large voting", often led to landslide if not wipe-out results in each state, resulting in a winning margin over the whole of Australia of up to 36-0. That would have given the party or grouping enjoying such a large Senate majority an advantage in any joint sitting, had there been one.
The voting system now used for the Senate, quota-preferential proportional representation, almost inevitably leads to very evenly-divided results. Six senators are elected from each State and two from each Territory. A party or grouping has to get at least 57% of the vote in any State to obtain a 4-2 majority of seats in that State, whereas from 51% to 56% of the vote yields only an equality of 3 seats to each major party or group.
The Federal Convention is a formal joint session of the two houses of the bicameral Austrian Parliament, to swear the elected President of Austria into office.
The Canadian government procedure is called a joint address, with the members of the House of Commons attending the Senate as guests. There is no procedure in Canada for both chambers of the Parliament to sit in a true joint session.
The Congress of France is an assembly of both houses of the French Parliament, convened at the Palace of Versailles, which can approve certain amendments to the constitution by a three-fifth majority of all members. Since 2008, the Congress may also be convened to hear an address from the President of the Republic.
In India, if a bill has been rejected by any house of the parliament and more than six months have lapsed, the President may summon a joint session for passing the bill. The bill is passed by simple majority of a joint sitting. Since the lower house (Lok Sabha) has more than twice the members in upper house, group commanding majority in lower house, the Government of India, can get such a bill passed even if it was rejected by the upper house.
So far, only three bills (the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Banking Service Commission Repeal Bill, 1978 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002) have been passed at joint sessions. Though, the joint session have been called for four times, fourth time in 2008 for the Women Reservation bill, but it could not be passed.
- To declare the existence of a state of war
- Canvassing of votes after a presidential election
- Every State of the Nation Address
- Revocation or extension of the
- Proclamation of martial law, or
- Suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
While the State of the Nation address occurs annually, and presidential elections occur every six years, the only time that the other two conditions were met after the approval of the 1987 constitution was after the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao after the Maguindanao massacre.
The State of the Union Address of the president of the United States is traditionally made before a "joint session" of the United States Congress. Many states refer to an analogous event as a "joint convention". Such assemblies are typically held in the chamber of the lower house as the larger body.
State constitutions of U.S. states may require joint conventions for other purposes; for example Tennessee's requires such to elect the secretary of state, the state treasurer, and the comptroller of the treasury.
The speech from the throne upon the state opening of Parliament is made before a joint sitting of the both Houses. This occurs in the Upper Chamber, due to the constitutional convention that the monarch never enters the Commons chamber.
- "President summons joint sitting of Parliament". The Economic Times. PTI. Mar 22, 2002. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "RAJYA SABHA - AN INTRODUCTION". rajyasabha.nic.in. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- "Lok Sabha". parliamentofindia.nic.in. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- "782 MPs await novel joint session". The Economic Times. TNN. Mar 23, 2002. Retrieved 31 July 2012.