Members must let Parliament function, or pay the price
A functioning parliament is the cornerstone of democracy, and disruptions in its functioning by rushing to the well of the house is what Ambedkar called “the grammar of anarchy” in the Constituent Assembly debateseditorials Updated: Dec 13, 2017 15:59 IST
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has suggested a drastic solution to the problem of disruptions in Parliament. To prevent members from becoming unruly, rushing to the well of the House and making it impossible for either House to conduct its business, Mr. Naidu has said that members who have “violated rules in disregard of the directions of the Chair and, thereby, adversely impact[ed] the functioning of the House” should be named publicly and their membership to the House automatically suspended. Such a rule already exists for the Lok Sabha, but not for the Rajya Sabha.
The need for some stringent rules to be laid down for parliamentarians arises because of the quantum of disruptions that both houses of Parliament have witnessed in the past. Data collected by PRS Legislative Research shows that the Winter Session of 2016 was one of the least productive in the past 15 years for both Houses , primarily because of repeated disruptions. Of 330 listed questions in the Rajya Sabha, only two could be answered verbally (that’s less than 1%). In the Lok Sabha, 11% of the listed questions could be answered verbally. It has been estimated that every minute that Parliament is in session costs approximately Rs. 29,000. This means that for every day lost to disruption, the country suffers a loss of more than Rs. 1 crore of taxpayers’ money. This constant disruption of parliamentary proceedings leads to the passing of several important bills without adequate discussion or debate. The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed in the Lok Sabha within an hour of introduction. The situation in the Rajya Sabha is no different with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, passed with barely an hour of discussion.
For laws to reflect the need of the country, lawmakers must invest time and effort in debating and fruitfully engaging with the procedure established by the Constitution. Disrupting Parliament is nothing but the “grammar of anarchy” that Ambedkar warned about in the Constituent Assembly debates of 1949. If our elected representatives cannot have a civilised discussion even within the hallowed halls of Parliament, perhaps it is time for stern disciplinary measures to facilitate the smooth functioning of Parliament.
First Published: Dec 13, 2017 14:15 IST