November 26, 2015 4:30:28 pm
The winter session of Parliament has begun today with a two-day discussion on the Constitution. Since the NDA came to power in May 2014, four sessions of Parliament have been held. A review of the sessions indicates that the first three sessions saw considerable business being addressed by both Houses with only the last session transacting very little work.
The last monsoon session: A virtual wash-out due to Opposition disruptions of both Houses over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam controversies. The Lok Sabha saw the suspension of 25 of 44 Congress members by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for five days. This led to a boycott of proceedings by several opposition parties as a demonstration of solidarity with the suspended MPs throughout this period. The Rajya Sabha went completely without Question Hour though Lok Sabha did some work during Question Hour for a number of days and also saw some legislative business but in the absence of the boycotting opposition parties.
The Lok Sabha sat for 47 hours and 27 minutes working through the din but lost 34 hours and four minutes due to the protests. However, it also sat late for five hours and 27 minutes to compensate for the time lost. The disruptions ensured the failure of the government’s plans to push the revolutionary Goods and Services Tax (GST) through Parliament.
The Rajya Sabha’s productivity in the monsoon session was the second worst in 15 years, the previous lowest being the winter session of 2010 when the then opposition BJP’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to inquire into allocation of 2G spectrum brought productivity down to a historic low of 2 per cent in the Rajya Sabha and 6 per cent in the Lok Sabha.
The last Budget session of Parliament: Marked the passage of record official business in the past five years. The two Houses unanimously passed the 100th Constitution Amendment Bill for the operationalisation of the Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh.
The Rajya Sabha also created history of sorts by passing a private members’ bill, the first in 36 years, seeking equal opportunities for transgenders. As many as 22 Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha and two in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha cleared 23 bills and the Rajya Sabha 24. The Lok Sabha held 35 sittings, the highest in the past five years. The Rajya Sabha tally was 32 sittings, next only to 34 in 2012. Interestingly, the Lok Sabha worked for 117 per cent of the scheduled time and the Rajya Sabha also slightly exceeded the allotted time with a productivity of 101 per cent.
Disruptions and interruptions made the Lok Sabha lose a total of six hours and 54 minutes, but the loss was made up by the members who skipped their lunch break and put in 42 hours and 41 minutes of extra work.
The 2014 winter session: The Lok Sabha functioned normally utilising 98 per cent of its scheduled time. However, the Rajya Sabha worked for only 59 per cent of its time. Both Houses held discussions on several issues, including black money, natural calamities, India’s stand at the WTO and MNREGA.
The 2014 Budget Session: Its success can be gauged by the fact that the Lok Sabha ran for 167 hours as against 19 hours and 36 minutes during the budget session of 2013. It marked the passage of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill (since quashed by the Supreme Court) and the SEBI Bill. It also passed a bill seeking to clear legal hurdles in the appointment of former TRAI chief Nripendra Misra as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The Rajya Sabha worked for 142 hours spread over 27 days. Although the Lok Sabha lost about 14 hours due to disruptions it more than made up for it by sitting extra for 28 hours and 10 minutes. The Upper House lost 34 hours due to interruptions and adjournments, but it was made up by late sittings and by dispensing with lunch breaks accounting for 38 hours.
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