Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged the presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to convene an all party meeting before the Monsoon session starts in July-August to discuss the issue of repeated disruptions and adjournments that is eating into the time of Parliament.
As much as 43.18% of time of the Upper House and 34.59% of time of the Lok Sabha was lost to disorder during the Budget session that started in February and was expected to end on May 22 but was adjourned sine die five days ahead of schedule on Thursday. As many as nine bills were passed amid commotion in the Lower House.
Singh made the request for an all-party meeting to discuss the issue when he called on Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee after the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die. He made the same point while calling for introspection in his end- of- the-session speech as Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha: ``Everything is not right the way Parliament is functioning. I am not apportioning blame but all of us should reflect on what is happening.’’
The issue figured also in the Speaker’s meeting with floor leaders on Thursday. Those who attended the meeting strongly felt that since Parliament was the best forum for an indepth discussion on issues of public importance and governance, it was important to see that the institution was not weakened.
The time-table of the second phase of the budget session went completely awry this time. As it is, the session had started eight days late on April 26 in view of the UP assembly polls. Even the limited time available could not be used because of repeated disruptions once the constitutional requirement of passing the Finance Bill was gone through on May 3-4 in the two Houses.
The early adjournment of the two Houses has put paid to efforts to hold at least 100 sittings of the two Houses in a year. As the longest of the three sessions that are held in a year, the Budget session has this time yielded only 32 Lok Sabha 31 Rajya Sabha sittings. The Monsoon and the Winter sessions are generally of five weeks’ duration.
Presiding officers’ conferences have repeatedly stressed that Parliament should sit for 100 days in a year. More recently, an all party meeting held during the Budget session the Government broadly agreed to the suggestion made, among others by CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta, for 100 days sitting but refused to commit itself to it saying that the length of the session should be need-based and not target oriented. When reports of early adjournment came, Dasgupta wrote to the PM to protest against it.
Reacting to queries at a press conference, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi claimed that barring four bills, the Government had completed most of its legislative business during the session. A total of 20 bills were passed during the session by both Houses, including the Securities Contracts, Sports Broadcasting Signals and the Electricity bills.
The Communal Harmony bill was held up because of certain new points made by the BJP and the Left. The bill relating to social security for unorganized labour would be brought in the Monsoon session and there would be another round of consultations with political parties on the bill to reserve one third seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies.
Email author: snagi @hindustantimes.com