The lawmakers of India are working overtime to dispose of legislative business in both Houses of Parliament.
With three working days of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha still left, Lok Sabha has already passed 30 Bills. The Rajya Sabha is done with 25 bills. The government proposes to pass four more legislations in the remaining three sittings of the Upper House. These are the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (second amendment) Bill, Dam Safety Bill, Chit funds Amendment Bill and SC Judges Bill. The government has already discussed more than a dozen other legislations with leaders of parties for consideration and passage, but the outcome depends on how much time is available.
Asked whether four Bills can be passed in the remaining three days, a source in Rajya sabha secretariat said: “The House has been passing Bills with extraordinary swiftness, there have been days when more than one Bill was passed. Today, for example, during the discussion on the UAPA Bill, BJP withdrew speakers so that the Bill could be quickly passed. Moreover, since these are extensions, there are no question Hours so the House has been taking up legislation right from the first half.” On the possibility of a further extension, the source said: “There is no clarity yet. 50-50 chances I would say.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Thursday, “We want to pass all the Bills. I hope by the end of this session on August 7, a new history in the passage of Bills and total working hours will be created.”
The government, according to him, was keen on getting all 36 Bills introduced in Parliament passed by the end of the extended session. He also gave credit for this achievement to Opposition parties. He said the Rajya Sabha had not cleared as much business as Lok Sabha because of the Opposition strength in the House. “But we are working by talking and taking everyone into confidence,” he said.
It is indeed set to be the most productive session for the Lok Sabha in the last 20 years. The members sit late into the night, sometimes even past midnight, to ensure full debates. According to an analysis conducted by PRS Legislative Research, the Lower House had registered a record productivity of 128 per cent between June 17 and July 16. The aggregation of this with the productivity of the remaining period may push up this rate further. In comparative terms, the first session of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 had seen a productivity of 67 per cent and the first session of the 16th Lok Sabha a productivity of 66 per cent.
After several disrupted sessions in the last two years of NDA I, Rajya Sabha has been prolific in the rate at which it has passed Bills, sitting till late despite protests from Opposition Benches. Having triggered quite a few crossovers and resignations from other parties, followed by the passage of contentious Bills such as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019 and the UAPA Bill, NDA II has proved that the Upper House is no longer the graveyard of legislations that it once was. The Opposition though, has accused the government of going back on its word about legislative scrutiny of some of these Bills by Parliamentary committees.
The high output of legislations makes the current 249th session of the Rajya Sabha among its most productive ever though the record for the passage of the highest number of Bills is held by the 9th session of the Rajya Sabha when 50 Bills were passed under the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru. Unlike the Lok Sabha, which dissolves after every five years, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and is counted by the number of sessions.