TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: The Winter Session of Parliament from December 4 to December 21, 2023, witnessed a legislative journey marked by a significant number of Bills, suspension of MPs, security breaches, and procedural deviations.
- Despite being scheduled until December 22, both Houses adjourned a day earlier.
- The Lok Sabha functioned for 74% of its allotted time, whereas the Rajya Sabha operated for 81%.
Suspension of Members and Ethical Misconduct
- Following a security breach on December 13, both Houses faced early adjournment, resulting in a subsequent dip in Parliament’s functionality.
- A notable consequence was the suspension of 100 Lok Sabha MPs and 46 Rajya Sabha MPs, constituting 19% of each House, marking the highest number of suspensions in any Lok Sabha term.
- Moreover, an MP faced expulsion for ethical misconduct, a rare occurrence in parliamentary history.
Legislation and Referral to Committees
- All 10 Bills introduced during the session, along with seven pending Bills from previous sessions, were successfully passed.
- Notably, no Bills were referred to Committees in this session, indicating a decrease from 71% during the 15th Lok Sabha to a mere 16% in the current 17th Lok Sabha.
Discussion on Crucial Bills and State of Economy
- The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, which reshapes the telecom sector’s regulatory framework, was swiftly passed within three days of its introduction.
- Additionally, three Bills replacing significant laws were discussed extensively in both Houses.
- Rajya Sabha dedicated over 10 hours to deliberating the state of the economy and passed a supplementary budget increasing the annual budget by 1%.
Question Hour and Last-Minute Agenda Additions
- Question hour faced disruptions due to suspended MPs, resulting in the cancellation of questions asked by them.
- Both Houses witnessed a reduction in the time allocated for the Question Hour, functioning at 53% in Lok Sabha and 72% in Rajya Sabha.
- Furthermore, last-minute additions to the House agenda through Supplementary Agendas reduced MPs’ preparation time for interventions and debates.
Missing Deputy Speaker and Procedural Requirements
- An unprecedented development was the absence of the Deputy Speaker in the 17th Lok Sabha for almost its entire term, contrary to the constitutional mandate.
- The election of the Deputy Speaker is constitutionally prescribed soon after the formation of the Lok Sabha.
- The Winter Session of Parliament was eventful, marked by intense legislative activity, discussions on critical Bills, suspensions of MPs, disruptions due to security breaches, and procedural irregularities.
- The absence of the Deputy Speaker throughout the term raises procedural concerns, while the reduced referral of Bills to Committees reflects a shifting parliamentary approach.