Another session of House discord

Updated on Dec 23, 2021 11:39 PM IST

The government and Opposition must develop channels of communication to resolve extant issues

Parliament is the holiest sanctum in a representative democracy, where laws are meant to be debated and dissected and questions answered. (PTI) PREMIUM
Parliament is the holiest sanctum in a representative democracy, where laws are meant to be debated and dissected and questions answered. (PTI)
ByHT Editorial

The just-concluded winter session of Parliament was in the news for two things. One was the passage of important pieces of legislation, including one to repeal the three controversial farm laws, and another to link electoral rolls to the Aadhaar database. The other, regrettably, was the all too familiar scenes of chaos and protest that repeatedly disrupted proceedings, with the treasury benches alleging that the opposition parties were being obstructionist, and the Opposition claiming that the government was bent on muzzling their right to debate key bills. The face-off hampered proceedings in both Houses, but particularly in the Rajya Sabha, which functioned at only 48% productivity due to a protracted tussle between the government and Opposition over the controversial suspension of 12 lawmakers from opposition parties. To be sure, even this figure bettered those during the stormy monsoon session, which was roiled by unprecedented unruly behaviour and where the Upper and Lower Houses functioned at 28% and 22% productivity, respectively.

This is both distressing and avoidable. Parliament is the holiest sanctum in a representative democracy, where laws are meant to be debated and dissected and questions answered. It is both a check on the powers of the executive and an assurance for citizens that laws that will govern them have been deliberated on sincerely. Unfortunately, truncated proceedings render this impossible. It cuts short debates on bills, blunts scrutiny of provisions and reports of parliamentary committees, and chokes public conversations that can only be triggered by vigorous debate in the Houses. Reversing this worrying trend has to be the responsibility of every lawmaker, who owes it to their constituents to sincerely discharge their duties towards the Constitution and give their utmost consideration to every function of the Houses, be it discussion or debate, asking or answering questions, serving on committees or voting on bills.

The government and Opposition must develop channels of communication to resolve extant issues and ensure that acrimony over issues and ideologies doesn’t derail the smooth functioning of the Houses. Apportioning blame over disruptions must stop, and stakeholders must take more accountability to ensure that discussing ideas and provisions that shape everyday lives is held paramount. The people of this country deserve to see their representatives engaged in fruitful and dynamic debate; only this can encourage a future generation and countervail apathy about parliamentary procedures. The world’s largest democracy must do better on this front.

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