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PRS Legislative Research’s Annual Review of State Laws 2023

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Parliament and State legislature

 

Source: TH

 Context: PRS Legislative Research  (an Indian non-profit organisation established in September 2005 as an independent research institute) has released its “Annual Review of State Laws 2023,” providing a detailed analysis of State legislatures’ performance across India.

 

Status of Bills Passed by States:

On average, states passed 18 bills each in 2023. Maharashtra passed 49 bills, while Delhi and Puducherry passed only 2 each.

 

Issues with the Working of the State Legislatures:

Issues Examples
Budget Passage Without Discussion In 2023, around 40% of the over Rs 18 lakh crore budget across 10 states was passed without discussion.
Madhya Pradesh passed 85% of its over Rs 3 lakh crore budget without discussion. Kerala, Jharkhand, and West Bengal followed with 78%, 75%, and 74% respectively
Poor functioning of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) In 2023, PAC held 24 sittings on average and tabled 16 reports.
In five states, including Bihar and Delhi, PAC didn’t table any reports. Maharashtra’s PAC neither convened nor released any report throughout the year
Hurried Legislative Action 44% of bills in all the states in 2023, were passed on the same or the next day of introduction.
Gujarat, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Puducherry, and Punjab passed all bills on the same day. – Kerala and Meghalaya took longer than five days to pass over 90% of their bills.
Ordinances Route Uttar Pradesh issued 20 ordinances, followed by Andhra Pradesh (11) and Maharashtra (9)
Poor Evaluation of Law-Making Only 23 out of over 500 bills were referred to legislative committees for deeper examination.
Assent by Governor While the Constitution requires the Governor to give assent to Bills at the earliest, only 59% of the Bills received assent within a month of being passed. Delays were seen in states like Assam, Nagaland and West Bengal.

 

Committee recommendations for improving State Assembly functioning:

  1. Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1988):
    1. Emphasized timely decisions on bills by establishing a legislative framework with time limits for the Governor’s assent.
    2. Recommended that State Finance Commission recommendations be considered in legislative budget discussions to ensure thorough debates.
  2. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution:
    1. Recommended subjecting parliamentarians/assembly members to public scrutiny through a parliamentary ombudsman.
    2. Suggested minimum annual meeting requirements for State Legislatures based on the number of members.

 

Way forward:

  1. Strengthening PAC: Standardize PAC operations with clear guidelines on sitting frequency, reporting requirements, and timelines.
  2. Expedited Decision-Making: Mandate the Governor to provide transparent and specific reasons for any delay in granting assent.
  3. Legislative Review: Advocate for thorough discussions and debates on budgets before passage, with consideration of State Finance Commission recommendations.
  4. Strengthen the role of State Finance Commissions in legislative budget discussions.
  5. Establish minimum session days for the assemblies to enhance legislative functioning.

 

Conclusion:

These recommendations aim to standardize PAC operations, expedite decision-making processes, promote transparency in legislative functioning, and ensure substantive discussions on important matters before their passage in the State Assemblies.

 

About the State Legislative Assembly (also known as Vidhan Sabha) 

It is the primary legislative body in Indian states and certain union territories. It comprises directly elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) serving 5-year terms. In 22 states and 3 union territories, it’s unicameral, while in 6 states, it’s the lower house of a bicameral legislature. Each assembly must have 60 to 500 members, with exceptions granted by Parliament. The assembly can be dissolved in emergencies, by the Governor on the Chief Minister’s request, or by a motion of no confidence against the ruling majority.

 

Mains Link:

Discuss the essential conditions for the exercise of the legislative powers by the Governor. Discuss the legality of the re-promulgation of ordinances by the Governor without placing them before the Legislature. (UPSC 2022)

Effectiveness of the government system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are interdependent”. Discuss their relationship in the context of India. (UPSC 2016)

Public expenditure management is a challenge to the Government of India in the context of budget-making during the post-liberalization period. Clarify it. (UPSC 2019)

 

Prelims Link:

Which of the following are the discretionary powers given to the Governor of a State? (UPSC 2014)

 

  1. Sending a report to the President of India for imposing the President’s rule
  2. Appointing the Ministers
  3. Reserving certain bills passed by the State Legislature for consideration by the President of India
  4. Making the rules to conduct the business of the State Government

 

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

 

Ans: B