March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

PARLIAMENT’S FUNCTIONING IN THE 17TH LOK SABHA

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TAG: GS 2: POLITY

THE CONTEXT: The recently concluded 17th Lok Sabha held 274 sittings, and four previous Lok Sabhas, all of which were dissolved before the stipulated five-year period, had fewer sittings.

EXPLANATION:

  • We will look into more detailed analysis of parliament functioning in 17th Lok Sabha.

Decrease in Annual Sitting Days:

  • The 17th Lok Sabha, which recently concluded, exhibited a significant decrease in the average annual sitting days compared to its predecessor.
  • While the first Lok Sabha, led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, averaged 135 days, the 17th Lok Sabha sat for only 55 days on average in a year.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is identified as a contributing factor to the reduced sitting days, but it doesn’t explain the early adjournments of 11 out of the 15 sessions during the 17th Lok Sabha.
  • The pandemic led to the cancellation of 40 scheduled sittings, with varying reasons cited for each cancellation.

Sessions and Sittings:

  • The 17th Lok Sabha held a total of 274 sittings, but the cancellation of sessions raises concerns about the efficiency and continuity of parliamentary proceedings.

Absence of Deputy Speaker:

  • Notably, the 17th Lok Sabha operated without a Deputy Speaker, a constitutionally mandated position according to Article 93 of the Constitution.
  • The absence of this key position raises questions about the adherence to constitutional norms.

Speedy Passage of Bills:

  • The Opposition has criticized the government for hastily passing Bills, often in the midst of chaos and without sufficient debate.
  • The study indicates that 58% of Bills were passed within two weeks of their introduction.
  • Notably, significant legislation like the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, and the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023, were passed within two days of introduction.

Limited Parliamentary Scrutiny:

  • The study by PRS Legislative Research reveals that only 16% of Bills were referred to Standing Committees for parliamentary scrutiny.
  • This is notably lower than the corresponding figures for the previous three Lok Sabhas, suggesting a potential lack of in-depth examination of proposed legislation.

Private Members’ Bills (PMB) and Resolutions:

  • The 17th Lok Sabha saw an increase in the introduction of Private Members’ Bills (729 in total), surpassing all previous Lok Sabhas except the 16th.
  • However, a mere two of these bills were discussed, signalling a significant bottleneck in the legislative process.
  • In Rajya Sabha, 705 PMBs were introduced, with 14 discussions.
  • However, the broader trend reveals that since 1970, no PMBs have been passed in both Houses.

Opposition Criticisms Validated:

  • The statistical analysis seems to validate Opposition claims of bills being rushed through without adequate debate, with 35% of Bills passed with less than an hour of discussion in Lok Sabha and a similar figure (34%) in Rajya Sabha.

Legislative Efficiency and Democratic Processes:

  • The findings raise concerns about the overall efficiency of the legislative process, the adherence to democratic norms, and the depth of parliamentary scrutiny exercised during the 17th Lok Sabha.
  • Concludingly, the 17th Lok Sabha’s performance, marked by fewer sitting days, absence of a Deputy Speaker, speedy passage of bills, and limited parliamentary scrutiny, warrants a comprehensive review to ensure the effective functioning of the democratic institution.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliaments-average-annual-sitting-days-down-to-55-in-the-17th-lok-sabha-from-135-in-the-first/article67835468.ece/amp/

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