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MPs have no time to query govt

delhi Updated: Apr 18, 2010 00:31 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Question Hour, the first and perhaps the most informative hour of the day when Parliament is in session, has been the worst victim of disruptions by MPs in both Houses, shows a new study.

Of the 18 hours allocated to MPs for asking questions during the ongoing budget session, 12 have been lost due to frequent disruptions, according to data compiled by Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research.

With two-thirds of the time allocated for the Question Hour already lost, and both Houses disrupted since the session resumed after a four-week break on Thursday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said the Question Hour was becoming "an everyday casualty".

When the Opposition stalled the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Friday, an angry Speaker shouted: "What is the point of the Question Hour?"

The speaker later said she was keen to "rescue" the hour, a forum during which members raise questions concerning issues related to common people. The government is duty-bound to answer the questions raised during this hour.

The PRS data shows that of the 320 questions listed to be answered orally during the ongoing session, only 30 have been answered in the Lok Sabha and 36 in the Rajya Sabha.

The amount of time lost in disruptions shows the efforts made by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar in changing rules to allow the question to be taken up for answering even in case the member concerned is absent, has also not helped.

The Rajya Sabha was the first to amend its rules during the winter session last year, followed by the Lok Sabha during the present session. Under the new rules, in case a member who has listed the question is not present when his/her name is called, three other members would be allowed to ask supplementary questions to prevent it from lapsing.

Ansari had also suggested that time of the Question Hour should be changed to save it from being disrupted as members know that they get maximum media coverage by not allowing the House to function since morning.