Working of Parliament in Winter Session – Insights
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About 12 bills were passed in in parliament in winter session 2014 (see more), which got concluded on 23rd Dec. (adjournment sine die). Sufficient numbers with government in Lok Sabha enabled government to push much important legislation. But in case of Rajya Sabha, lack of majority numbers with government was fully exploited by the opposition.
Rajya Sabha is also called house of elders and is supposed act maturely and to check aggressive or shoddy legislation by Lok Sabha. They are supposed to represent interest of states in law making. But currently it indulged itself into opportunistic obstruction. RS role to represent a state has practically came to end by amendment in Representation of People Act in 2003, which allowed people from any state to represent any other state in Rajya Sabha. Paradoxically, in coalition era, Lok Sabha has been better representative of states because of regional parties. Of course, this all changes this time.
This time in both houses questions and supplementaries were asked in good members. Speaker has been able to efficiently manage the business in Lok Sabha and was accommodative of opposition. But this time there are record number of new faces in Lok Sabha which has compromised in quality of debate and discussion. Further, it was said that some new ministers are not taking house seriously. However, it is a big respite that LS worked well after a long time.
This time few bills in LS are passed without referring them to the standing committee. This has set a bad precedence. Complexity, technicalities and quantum of legislation have increased in current times and it is imperative that in depth study and discussion in done in standing committees. Also, consultation with all stake holders is important.
Some bills were referred to Select committee by Rajya Sabha (which were directly passed by LS) and thus checking hasty legislation. But it was disrupted unreasonably for so long. To disrupt, no doubt is part of democratic process but its kind and underlying matter is relevant for justification. There adequate means available such as calling attention notice and Short duration Discussion, censure motion etc. which should be resorted to. Similarly question hour throws to all members, an opportunity once a week to corner every ministry.
Having said this, it has been seen that parties can cooperate even in disruption if they intend, as was seen in Food security act, act for Telangana. For this pressure to cooperate is built by media. As most of the parties have no vision or ideology at all. There sole business is to collude either with those in power to corner some favor or with those in opposition to obstruct those in power. If they do neither of two, then they stand to lose their relevance.
Role of whip, floor members and Chair of Speaker is instrumental in functioning of parliament.