One in five bills sent to panels during NDA’s 2nd term: Data | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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One in five bills sent to panels during NDA’s 2nd term: Data

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Sep 21, 2020 12:30 AM IST

The government has so far introduced 82 bills in Parliament since it won the general elections in 2019. Only 17 of them have been referred to various standing committees for in-depth reviews, the data says.

Just one in five proposed laws during the second term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government have been routed through Parliamentary committees for in-depth reviews, according to the data available with the PRS Legislative Research, echoing concerns of the Opposition over the bypassing of an important check-and-balance method in the Indian parliamentary system.

**EDS: VIDEO GRAB** New Delhi: Parliamentarians in Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (LSTV/PTI Photo)(PTI20-09-2020_000128B)(PTI)
**EDS: VIDEO GRAB** New Delhi: Parliamentarians in Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (LSTV/PTI Photo)(PTI20-09-2020_000128B)(PTI)

The government has so far introduced 82 bills in Parliament since it won the general elections in 2019. Only 17 of them have been referred to various standing committees for in-depth reviews, the data says.

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To be sure, older version of some bills — such as Protection of Transgender Rights bill or the Wage Code was referred to standing committees during the previous Lok Sabha. But for many such bills, that came with heavy changes, the review route was not opted for.

On Friday, the demand for review rocked the Rajya Sabha when the government tried to push two farm bills to replace related ordinances ignoring demand to send them to Select Committees. As the government pressed for a quick passage, fierce protests erupted in the House.

The PRS data also shows that in the first term of the Narendra Modi government, 25% of the bills introduced were referred to committees. “The figure, however, is much lower than 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively,” said a PRS note.

The Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in power in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha.

In the past, the Modi government had cleared the J&K reorganisation bill or the Triple Talaq bill directly without seeking reviews. In the budget session of 2019, the first one after the NDA won the national polls in 2019-- 38 Bills were introduced in Parliament (excluding the Finance and Appropriation Bills).

Twenty-eight of these bills were passed, setting record for the highest for any session in the last 10 years.

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi didn’t respond to the specific question of this larger trend, but refuted the impression that the government avoided scrutiny with the passage of the farm bills. ‘They [Opposition] didn’t even discuss the select committee properly. They just created a din. The question of division comes if they sit in their seats and ask,” he said.

While standing committees have been formed to review work and bills of different ministries, there is no violation of rules if a bill is not sent to a House panel. The government can always seek the Speaker or the Chairman’s permission to pass the bills quickly if any urgent need arises.

There are also instances such as the 2016 surrogacy bill, in which the government agreed for further scrutiny by the select committee even after the standing committee had reviewed it.

While the UPA has sent more bills for review, it also holds the infamous record of pushing as many as eight bills without debate in 17 minutes in the winter session of 2008. It was the last full session before next year’s general elections and despite protests by the BJP (then the principal Opposition party), Speaker Somnath Chatterjee allowed bypassing the debates and hurriedly passed the bills.

P Sreedharan, former secretary general of the Lok Sabha, said, “The departmentally related standing committee system, established since 1993, is now an integral part of our parliamentary procedure. There is a qualitative difference in the deliberations on bills in the House and within the committees. In the past, those committees have generally made substantial contributions in refining the bills. The standing committees should be got involved in the legislation process, as far as possible.”

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