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Private member’s bill seeks ways to hike Rajya Sabha productivity

A private member’s bill that sought to increase the hours and the minimum number of days for which the upper house functions in a year was presented in the Rajya Sabha on Friday

india Updated: Aug 03, 2018 23:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajya Sabha,Private member’s bill,Parliament (Enhancement of Productivity) Bill
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other ministers and Members stand to observe a silence during an obituary reference in the Rajya Sabha, in New Delhi on Friday, Aug 3, 2018.(PTI)

A private member’s bill that sought to increase the hours and the minimum number of days for which the upper house functions in a year was presented in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The Parliament (Enhancement of Productivity) Bill, 2017 moved by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Naresh Gujral sought to provide for the establishment of an effective system to prevent and address the decline in productivity of Parliament on account of disruptions of sittings.

It sought an appropriate legal framework to fix the minimum number of days in a year for which Parliament shall be in session.

It also proposed introduction of special session in addition to the existing three sessions, as compensation for the hours unutilised because of disruptions.

Moving the Bill, Gujral said the idea behind the bill was that over the years Parliament meets for hardly 60-70 days in a year. Gujral said when the Rajya Sabha started meeting in 1952, the Parliament would meet for 100 to 113 days, but, gradually, over the period of time, successive governments made sure that the duration of the session reduced.

“Naturally, as a result, Bills are piled up, action is not taken and public is caused inconvenience,” he said, adding: “… But successive governments--very frankly, whichever Government is in power and, today, of course, we are sitting with the Government--don’t want to be held accountable. Parliament is an accountability forum. So I would urge upon all my fellow Members and the Government to make it official so that the Parliament meets, to my mind, for, at least, four to five months in a year. At least, we should make sure that it is not less than 120 days.”

Gujral also said that MPs from smaller parties often do not get a chance or adequate time to raise issues because of the duration of the sessions.

The Bill was supported by Congress’ Jairam Ramesh who said the suggestion that both Houses should meet for a minimum of 100 days in a year is acceptable.

He, however, suggested that even if Lok Sabha is not able to meet for a 100 days, Rajya Sabha should meet for that long.

The Congress MP also suggested a special session when no government business is transacted so that MPs from smaller parties can raise issues.

“We must have 15- day session in a year in which no government business is transacted, but the issues raised by different parties, not just big parties like ours but small parties like SAD, AAP or YSRCP who may have two, three or four members, but whose issues may be very important which get drowned out because of the ruling party or the main opposition party,” he said.

There are currently no rules for fixing the minimum duration of sessions, supporting the move to introduce at least 100 days.

BJP MP Ashok Bajpai said newer members of the House get little time to participate in discussions.

He said people who keenly follow the proceedings in the Upper House are “disappointed” when the house is adjourned.

Vijaisai Reddy of the YSR Congress said the argument that parliamentary standing committees take up time is not acceptable.

It should be imperative for Parliament to function for 120 days, he said.

Discussion on the Bill will be resumed next week.

First Published: Aug 03, 2018 23:29 IST