How to improve legislative functioning? – UPSC GS2

  • Frequent disruption in legislative bodies and reducing duration of sessions.
  • Disruption is replacing discussion as the foundation of our legislative functioning.
  • All sessions since last year have been cut short due to COVID, state elections, disruptions etc.
  • In 2020, Parliament sat in session for 33 days only.
  • In the 2021 Monsoon session, Lok Sabha was scheduled to work for six hours per day for 19 days. Instead, it sat for 21 hours in total or 21% of what was conceived, as per the PRS Legislative Research
  • In the past 10 years, the Rajya Sabha has functioned for less than 25% of its scheduled time.
Global examples:
  • All the above-mentioned figure is much low when compared to other countries like the USA that met physically for 113 days in 2020
  • Brazil Parliament, which adopted the usage of an application called Infoleg, functioned at higher rates than in pre-pandemic times, with extraordinarily high voting rates.
Reasons behind disorderly conduct by MPs:
  • Dissatisfaction in MPs because of inadequate time for airing their grievances.
  • Unresponsive attitude of the government and the retaliatory posture of the treasury benches.
  • Political parties not adhering to parliamentary norms and disciplining their members.
  • Absence of prompt action against disrupting MPs under the legislature’s rules.
Steps to ensure disciplinary conduct:
  • The Lok Sabha has had a simple code of conduct for its MPs since 1952. Earlier, the rules required MPs not to interrupt the speech of others, maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hissing or by making commentaries during debates.
  • Newer forms of protest led to the updating of these rules in 1989. Accordingly, members should not shout slogans, display placards, tear away documents in protest, play cassettes or tape recorders in the House.
  • A new rule empowers the Lok Sabha Speaker to suspend MPs obstructing the Houses’ business automatically.
However, these rules are not duly implemented.
Why are such steps not duly implemented?
  • The government exercises considerable control over the legislature. It decides when Parliament should meet, for how long, and plays a significant role in determining what issues the House should discuss.
  • Successive governments have shied away from increasing the working days of Parliament. When a contentious issue crops up, the government dithers on debating it.
  • This induces opposition MPs to violate the conduct rules and disrupt the proceedings of Parliament. Since they have the support of their parties in breaking the rules, the threat of suspension from the House does not deter them.
  • Suggestions of 2001 All Part conference:
    • Enforcement of a code of conduct for MPs and MLAs and
    • An increase in the sitting days of legislatures
      • The conference deduced that Parliament should meet for at least 110 days every year and larger state legislative assemblies for 90 days.
  • The country can introduce the concept of opposition days, as done in the U.K and Canada.
  • In the United Kingdom, where Parliament meets over 100 days a year, opposition parties get 20 days. On these days, they decide the agenda for discussion in Parliament.
  • Usually, decisions of the House passed on opposition days are not binding on the government and are an opportunity for the opposing parties to focus national attention on issues that it deems crucial.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top