New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) Members of the Rajya Sabha on Friday expressed concern over reduced Parliament sittings annually, with some seeking an effective system to prevent and arrest the decline in parliamentary productivity due to disruptions.
Concerns were raised during a discussion on a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member Naresh Gujral.
The Parliament (Enhancement of Productivity) Bill, 2017, sought to evolve a system by means of an appropriate legal framework to fix the minimum number of days in a year for Parliament sessions.
Initiating the debate, Gujral said that over the years Parliament met for hardly 60-70 days in a year.
“When the Rajya Sabha started meeting in 1952, it would be for 100 to 113 days, and so on. But over time, successive governments made sure that the duration of sessions got reduced. As a result, bills pile up, action is not taken and public is inconvenienced,” he said.
The SAD member said that apart from the fact that the house is not meeting enough the way it should be, it also sees disruptions.
“If Parliament proceedings are disrupted, then automatically the number of hours that are lost in disruptions should get added to the session. Once that happens, then automatically whichever government is in power, they will be held accountable,” he said and demanded that the government make it official so that Parliament meets at least four to five months in a year.
Gujral said that he never got more than nine minutes to speak on any subject, adding that small parties suffered, as did the back benchers.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh supported the bill and expressed concern over the reduced parliamentary sittings.
“There have been years in which Parliament met for 125 days. Those were the good old days of the 1950s. Then, progressively, it started coming down, and over the last decade, the average is less than 70 days,” he said.
He said that both Houses should meet for a minimum of 100 days in a year.
“It was expected that in the Council of States, you will have knowledgeable people who can look beyond party lines and discuss national issues,” he said.
He suggested that even if the Lok Sabha is not able to meet for 100 days, the Rajya Sabha should meet for this duration.
Agreeing with Gujral’s stand, Ramesh said that time lost due to disruptions must be compensated.
“If we lose two hours in protests and agitation, we must make it up either the same day or the next day… or during the session,” he said while seeking an assurance from the government that this will actually be introduced as a government bill.
V. Vijayasai Reddy of the YSR Congress said that the bill is very essential and requires to be passed in the interest of parliamentary democracy.
“I sincerely feel, irrespective of whether opposition or the treasury benches disrupted the House, time lost due to disruptions should be compensated,” Reddy said.
He said either the number of days of a session be proportionately increased or members responsible for disruptions should not be paid salary and other allowances.
The bill was supported among others by the Rashtriya Janata Dal, DMK, Janata Dal-United and the Aam Aadmi Party.