Answer Synopsis 09/12/2020

Question : There are growing concerns about the falling efficiency of the parliament. Enumerate the key issues. What has been done so far in this regard? Suggest measures to improve this condition.

Structure of the answer

  • Give a brief intro on falling efficiency of parliament.
  • List out the key issues with the facts.
  • Mention the efforts already taken in this regard.
  • Bring out the best possible measures to overcome the issue.

Synopsis

The recent sessions of the parliament has seen frequent disruptions and walking outs, all of which has badly affected the efficiency and reputation of the parliament.

Recent issues

  • Fall in no. of sittings: No. of days of sittings reduced to 65-70 days per year in the last couple of decades compared to 125-140 days during 1950s & 60s.
  • The 16th LS met 40 % less than previous full time parliaments. ie..331 days compared to 468 days of previous avg.
  • Loss of precious time due to disruptions in the houses.
    • 16% loss only due  to disruptions.
    • LS lost 33% and RS lost 60% of the qn. hour.
  • Absenteeism – A large no of MPs are not attending most of the sittings in the houses.
    • Some MPs have attendance as low as 20% or less.
    • At many instances, Houses are adjourned due to the lack of quorum, adversely affecting the parliamentary functions.
  • Lack of debates & discussions: large no of bills are cleared w/o effective debate or scrutiny by committee.- Govt actions are not properly scrutinized.
    • Many important bills like Aadhar bill, Triple talaq bill and NMC bill etc. were not properly undergone detailed scrutiny and debate.
    • Eg: Recent passage of finance bill (Budget 2018) without discussion, despite having 3 weeks left to end the budget session of the parliament.
  • Downsizing RS: more often the powers of Rajya sabha are circumvented by passing bills as money bills.
    • Eg. Aadhar bill.
  • Quality of debates: topics of discussions have more become local/regional in nature ignoring issues of national importance.
  • Removing the convention of having question hours and zero hours

Measures taken

Despite repeated requests by vice president, who is also the chairman of the Rajya sabha, not much solid steps has been taken to improve the conditions.

  • a private member’s bill — Parliament (Enhancement of Productivity) Bill, 2017,which Aims to establish an effective system to prevent and address the decline in productivity of Parliament by an appropriate legal framework,  is not yet adopted.

Measures to enhance the quality

  1. ensure compulsory minimum no. of sittings as 120 days( as law commission recommended)
    • Eg: Odisha has shown the way by fixing min 60 days of assembly sittings.
  2. Advancing working hours by an hour.. ie from 10 am. – gives more time
  3. Avoid frequent adjournments of the sessions – so that more time will be available for discussions on matters of critical national importance.
    • Work additional days to substitute time lost due to disruptions.
    • Cut salary and allowances of frequent disruptor.
  4. Having a calendar of sittings announced at the beginning of each year- this would help MPs to plan their itineraries in advance.
  5. Rules should be amended so that, a session could be summoned    if 1/4th of the members demands so.
  6. Suspend and force out members who are continuously disrupting house proceedings.
  7. Special shorter sessions may be convened to discuss matters of grave national importance.

Whatever be the cause of poor performance of the houses, it is the common people who remain the ultimate victims, as their issues are not getting discussed and debated there, and the poor quality of the legislations would make vulnerable more vulnerable.

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