Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari’s terse comment that “peace prevailed only when obituaries were read” in the House summed up the tumultuous winter session of Parliament that concluded Friday as a near washout.
Noisy scenes in the Upper House, where both the Opposition and the ruling side held up proceedings through the session, often trooping into the well of the House, elicited a sharp response from Ansari. “...Regular and continuous disruptions characterised the session,” he said.
Like President Pranab Mukherjee who expressed concern over the disruption in Parliament, Ansari asked both sides to “introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House when Ansari made the comment.
In the Lok Sabha where interruption and disorder dominated the house proceedings throughout the 21 sittings, speaker Sumitra Mahajan expressed concern over the impression that the members were conveying to people at large.
Pointing out that the disruption led to the loss of over 91 hours, she said: “This is not a good thing for all of us and this maligns our image in the eyes of people.”
Barring the passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016, as many as 10 other Bills could not be taken up for consideration, including the Maternity Benefits Bill, 2016 that if passed, it would have increased maternity leave for women from 23 weeks to 26 weeks; and the HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 that aims to provide for prevention and control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment ) Bill, 2015, providing a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants was also not taken up.
With the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill pending, there is speculation that at least one House may not be prorogued and Parliament may be reconvened for a brief special session to take up the bill.