Presiding officers’ conference: Resolution stresses on primacy of Legislature in lawmaking
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday also criticised “pre-planned disruptions” of the House, and said such activities are not good for democracy.
A reiteration of the primacy of people, through legislatures, in lawmaking; a decision on model rules for the conduct of legislative business; and a reaffirmation of the separation of powers between all organs of the State -- these were part of the resolution adopted by the 83rd presiding officers’ conference a day after Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla spoke out against alleged judicial overreach.
The resolution said that the conference “reaffirms its complete faith in the primacy of the people of India in lawmaking through the legislative bodies of the nation and while reposing confidence in the principle of separation of powers, exhorts all organs of State to respect the constitutional boundaries enshrined in the Constitution of India”.
Lok Sabha Speaker Birla on Thursday also criticised “pre-planned disruptions” of the House, and said such activities are not good for democracy.
On Wednesday, Dhankhar said Parliament’s sovereignty and autonomy cannot be permitted to be qualified or compromised as it is quintessential to survival of democracy, referring to Supreme Court’s rejection of the National Judicial Appointments Commission law. “No institution can wield power or authority to neutralise the mandate of the people,” Dhankhar added, while saying a landmark 1973 judgment that set the “basic structure” argument to judge laws through a constitutional prism set a “bad precedent” by effectively curtailing the power of the legislature.
Birla, meanwhile, urged the judiciary “to confine to its limits prescribed in the Constitution” and said the “judiciary is also expected to follow the principle of separation and balance of powers conferred by the Constitution among all institutions while exercising its constitutional mandate.” The Speaker added that executive, legislature and judiciary should “work in harmony, trust and balance, maintaining each other’s jurisdiction”.
In his valedictory address at the All India Presiding Officers’ Conference in Jaipur, Birla said on Thursday: “Presiding Officers should consider encouraging those lawmakers who participate in debates in the House and also prepare an action plan to act against those members who constantly obstruct the proceedings of the House, so that dignity of the House is not compromised.”
Birla’s comments assume significance as the Lok Sabha’s productivity or time utilisation dropped to 88% in the last winter session and to just 47% in the 2022 monsoon session from 123% in last year’s budget session. The Lower House witnessed heavy disruptions in the previous two sessions from the Opposition benches .
In the 2021 monsoon session, the Lok Sabha could utilise only 21% of its allotted time.
Wrapping up the discussions of the presiding officers’ meeting, Birla observed, “India’s democracy inspires all countries, so presiding officers and public representatives should contribute in making legislative bodies ideal institutions. Debates and discussions enrich legislations. Pre-planned organized disruptions are not good for democracy.”
Birla emphasised on no disruptions during Question Hour, the period for all lawmakers to seek answers from ministers, and linked parliamentary functioning to India’s goals during the “Amrit Kaal”, or the coming 25 years in the run-up to 2047. “When the country is witnessing massive transformation, the role of legislatures has become more important. There should be maximum dialogue in the Houses, proper use of technology and strong connect between the people and the legislature. Let this message go among the public that the growing hopes and aspirations of the people can be fulfilled through the legislatures.”
The Lok Sabha Speaker also reiterated the need for uniformity of rules and procedures in legislatures and said “notwithstanding financial autonomy, uniformity of rules and procedures will help in strengthening parliamentary democracy”.
The resolution also pledged support to India’s G20 presidency and in projecting India as a lobal leader in the cause of equity, inclusivity, fraternity, peace, and sustainable lifestyles. It also confirmed that all legislatures would work towards joining the National Digital Grid for Legislative Bodies.