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Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion: Low Productivity in the Parliament

Context

The Winter Session of Parliament was scheduled to be held between November 29, 2021, and December 23, 2021, for 19 sittings. But both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die on December 22, bringing an end to the Winter Session of Parliament a day ahead of schedule.

Key Points

  • The Winter Session had 18 sittings and witnessed the passage of key legislation such as the Farm Laws Repeal Bill and the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill. Both the Houses of Parliament passed 11 bills; 13 Bills (12 in Lok Sabha and 1 in Rajya Sabha) were introduced.
  • During the session that began on November 29, while the Lok Sabha clocked 82 per cent business productivity through 18 sittings, the Rajya Sabha registered productivity of only 47 per cent through 18 sittings.
  • The Lok Sabha clocked 83 hours and 12 minutes of work through the 18 sittings this session. Where the House lost 18 hours 48 minutes to disruptions but saw productivity reaching 204 per cent on December 2 when the members discussed COVID-19.
  • The government had listed 26 Bills on the agenda for the Winter Session. But only 13 Bills were introduced in both the Houses while 11 Bills were passed by both the Houses of Parliament. The much-awaited bill to regulate cryptocurrencies could not be taken up either.

Low Productivity in some previous sessions

  • Last year, the Winter Session was not held due to concerns raised by several parties over the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the Winter Session of 2019, the Lok Sabha productivity was 110 per cent, while that of the Rajya Sabha was 92 per cent, according to an analysis by PRS Legislative Research.
  • Last year, the Rajya Sabha sat for just 33 days (due to Covid), with its lowest-ever tally of sittings in a year. There are only three other occasions when the Upper House sittings were below 50 days in a year.
  • Last year, Both sessions of Parliament — The budget session and the monsoon session — had to be cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the Monsoon Session held in July-August this year, the Lok Sabha registered business productivity of 22 per cent, while it was 28 per cent for the Rajya Sabha.

What work has done in this winter session?

  • During this period, 13 bills were introduced – 12 in Lok Sabha and 1 in Rajya Sabha. 11 Bills were passed by both Houses, which includes one Appropriation Bill relating to the Supplementary Demands for Grants for the year 2021-22, which was passed by Lok Sabha, transmitted to Rajya Sabha and will be deemed to have been passed by both Houses after the expiry of 14 days.
  • The most significant Bills that got the green light from both the Houses include the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, to repeal the contentious farm laws, and the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which sought to link Aadhaar numbers with voter IDs. Other legislation passed include fixing the tenure of directors of the Enforcement Directorate and CBI at five years and supplementary demands for grants.

The motion of suspension of 12 members

The motion was brought under rule 256 – which provides for suspending a member for “disregard” of the authority of the Chair or “abuse” of the rules of the Council by “persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof.” Leaders of the 12 opposition parties unitedly condemned the suspension and termed it as “unwarranted and undemocratic” and said this was done in “violation of all the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha”.

What Supreme court said about Unruly behaviour in parliament?

The Supreme Court, which was hearing pleas relating to a criminal case lodged in connection with ruckus inside Kerala Assembly in 2015 during the previous Congress-led UDF rule, said it must be ensured that decorum is maintained in the House. The Supreme Court said it has to take a “strict” view of unruly behaviour of lawmakers in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies as such incidents are “increasing nowadays” and this sort of conduct cannot be condoned. It also said that ‘’we must ensure that some decorum is maintained. These are sentinels of democracy.’’

What kind of Constitutional protection do parliamentarians get ?

Article 105(3), 194(3) of the Constitution of India confers certain privileges and immunities to the members of Parliament and state legislature with regard to happenings on the floor of the house and which are not challengeable in courts.

The very low productivity in the upper house

  • The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, discharged business only for 45 hours 34 minutes out of a scheduled sitting time of 95 hours 6 minutes.
  • This Upper House’s productivity of 47.90 per cent was the fifth-lowest among 12 sessions presided over by M Venkaiah Naidu over the last four years.
  • A total time of 49 hours and 32 minutes were lost due to disruptions and forced adjournments. The time lost amounts to 52.08 per cent of the available time.

Why this much disruption in the house?

  • The Session was stormy because of disruptions by members of Opposition parties over the suspension of the 12 MPs for their “unruly” conduct in the previous session in August.
  • The Opposition members also demanded the resignation of Ajay Misra Teni for his son’s alleged involvement in the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the frequent disruptions have impacted the productivity of the temple of democracy in a very big way and the house functioned much below its potential. All the members of the parliament should collectively and individually reflect and introspect if this Session could have been different and better as ultimately it’s their responsibility towards people of this country and to run the house properly.

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