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.
- 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.