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15 point reform charter for better functioning of Parliament

Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

15 point reform charter for better functioning of Parliament

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the charter, basic structure of the constitution.

For Mains: Concerns and challenges, need for reforms.

 

Context: Expressing concern over the functioning of parliamentary institutions in the country and erosion of public trust in them, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has unveiled a 15-point reform charter.

This may serve as the basis for a new political normal to enable effective functioning of the Parliament and State Legislatures.

 

The 15-point charter includes:

  1. Parties need to ensure attendance of at least 50% of their legislators all through the proceedings of the Houses by adopting a roster system.
  2. Review of anti-defection law.
  3. Review of the whip system which is “stifling reasonable dissent even on non-consequential matters”.
  4. Set up special courts for time-bound adjudication of criminal complaints against legislators.
  5. Pre and post legislative impact assessment.
  6. Address problem of rising number of legislators with criminal background.
  7. Governments should be responsive to opposition and opposition to be responsible and constructive while resorting to available parliamentary instruments
  8. Consensus on the proposal for simultaneous elections.
  9. Steps should be taken for the effective functioning of the Parliamentary Committees.
  10. The representation of women in legislatures needs to be raised.

 

Challenges and concerns:

The present pitfalls of our parliamentary democracy are too well known to be elaborated. Briefly, these include:

  1. Declining number of sittings of legislatures.
  2. Persistent disruptions.
  3. Declining quality of debates.
  4. Growing number of legislatures with criminal record.
  5. High degree of absenteeism.
  6. Inadequate representation of women.
  7. Rising money and muscle power in elections.
  8. Lack of inner democracy in functioning of the political parties.
  9. Poor knowledge, low argumentative power of the masses, negative influences of poverty and economic disparities.
  10. Faulty ‘First Pass the Post (FPTP) election system.
  11. Society’s perpetual habit of accepting all permeable state to control public and private affairs.

 

Way ahead:

As an institution, Parliament is central to the very idea of democracy and was assigned a pivotal role in our Constitution by the founding fathers of the republic.

Yet, so many decades later, it has neither evolved nor matured as it could, might or should have. If anything, slowly but surely, it has diminished in stature and significance.

Indeed, it is now more a symbol than the substance of a vibrant democracy that has taken deep roots among our people. The time has come for citizens, whom it represents, to evaluate that performance.

 

Sources: pib.

 

Mains Question:  In the recent past the parliament has been aggressively pushing bills on many fronts for a better India, however they suffer from the common malady that they are likely to be extremely under-enforced because of weak state capacity. Should Parliament pass laws that the government cannot enforce? Analyse.

CategoriesINSIGHTS