28 MPs yet to attend even one standing committee meeting
Upset at the low attendance of MPs in panel meetings, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday called the heads of the eight panels that fall under his jurisdiction to brainstorm on how to solve the attendance problem.Updated: Dec 06, 2019 00:55 IST
As many as 28 members of Parliament (MPs) are yet to attend a standing committee meeting of the eight committees that come under the purview of the Rajya Sabha, official records have revealed. The committees have members from both houses. They also showed that just five out of 31 members attended one of the meetings of the home affairs panel, underlining a sudden dip in the attendance of MPs in these eight panels.
Upset at the low attendance of MPs in panel meetings, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday called the heads of the eight panels that fall under his jurisdiction to brainstorm on how to solve the attendance problem. In an unprecedented step he also mentioned the names of MPs who attend meetings regularly in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. “I thought that it would be appropriate to mention the names of the Members of this House who attended all the meetings of the Department Related Committees in the august house as a token of appreciation and also to motivate others to do so,” Naidu said.
He also expressed unhappiness at the fact that at least 100 MPs have skipped two or more successive meetings of their panels, said a Rajya Sabha official who asked not to be named.
Indian Parliament has 24 department-related standing committees to review the functioning of central ministries; 16 of these are under the purview of the Lok Sabha while the remaining eight come under the Rajya Sabha. In all panels, parliamentarians from both Houses are included as members. The attendance records of the 16 committees under the Lok Sabha were not immediately available.
After the panels were reconstituted in September, the Rajya Sabha committees have so far held 41 meetings. Naidu told the chairpersons that the average attendance stands at 49%. The panel on HRD has the highest attendance rate, 65% whereas the home affairs committee’s attendance stands at 39%. “Members’ attendance has been below 50% in 23 of 41 meetings,” Naidu informed the chairpersons.
Each of these panels has 10 members from the Rajya Sabha and 21 from the Lok Sabha.
The issue of attendance of members in house committees came into focus last month after just five of 27 members of the urban development panel attended a meeting on pollution. The meeting was cancelled due to lack of quorum, leading to widespread criticism, especially as the national capital region was suffering from severe air pollution at the time.
Rajya Sabha officials added that out of the 28 MPs who haven’t attended any Rajya Sabha standing committee meeting, 17 belong to the Lok Sabha and the rest are members of the Upper House.
In his meeting with the chairpersons, Naidu suggested that the schedule can be prepared much in advance so that MPs can plan accordingly. He also asked the chairpersons to target at least two-thirds attendance in each meeting and the duration of meetings should be “sufficiently long” during inter-session period. The panel heads will keep a record of reasons for absence of MPs from meetings, he said.
“Naidu informed the chairpersons that he will share the details of attendance of Rajya Sabha panels with the Speaker of Lok Sabha for the benefit of similar assessment of committees in the Lower House,” the first official said.