Of 248 MPs from the two Houses of Parliament on eight department-related standing committees of Rajya Sabha, 100 have not attended two or more successive meetings. And in the 41 meetings held since September, attendance in 23 was below the halfway mark. Only 36 MPs attended all meetings. The department-related standing committee on Home Affairs recorded the worst average attendance — 39 per cent.
These were some of the statistics highlighted during Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s meeting with the chairmen of the committees Thursday morning. Sharing his concern with the House later, Naidu appealed to leaders of all political parties to “ensure quantitative and qualitative functioning of these committees”.
He said only 18 of 80 Rajya Sabha MPs who are members of the eight committees had attended all 41 meetings. Of the 168 Lok Sabha MPs on the committees, 18 were present at all the meetings.
He then went on to name the 18 Rajya Sabha MPs with 100 per cent attendance to “motivate” others to follow their example. The Congress led with Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, L Hanumanthaiah and Amee Yajnik. Three each from the BJP — Rakesh Sinha, Vinay Dinu Tendulkar and Satyanarayan Jatiya — and Samajwadi Party — Ramgopal Yadav, Vishamber Prasad Nishad and Ravi Prakash Verma — shared the second place.
The others with full attendance were Prasanna Acharya and Sasmit Patra from BJD and one each from TDP (T G Venkatesh), CPM (K Somaprasad), TRS (K Keshava Rao), YSRCP (V Vijaysai Reddy) and the DMK (P Wilson).
“Each member of the department-related standing committee represents 25 Members of Parliament while deliberating in the committee. If one member is absent, the voice of 25 members would not be heard. I hence appeal to leaders of all the political parties inside the House, outside also, to ensure quantitative and qualitative functioning of these committees in whom the Parliament has vested an important responsibility of functioning on its behalf,” Naidu said.
Department-related standing committees, were conceived as an effective instrument of enabling detailed scrutiny of legislative proposals. They also examine various issues for reporting in a bipartisan manner. Each committee has 31 members — 10 from Rajya Sabha and 21 from the Lok Sabha.
According to data available with the Rajya Sabha secretariat, eight MPs (two from RS) did not attend any of the four meetings of the Commerce standing committee. Of these, one is an independent, one from TDP, one from SAD, one from DMK, one from Congress, one from Shiv Sena and two from BSP. Three from Lok Sabha (Shiv Sena, TRS, IUML) did not attend any of the seven meetings of the Health and Family Welfare standing committee.
One Rajya Sabha member (BSP) and one Lok Sabha member (BJP) did not attend any of the six meetings of the Home Affairs committee. Two Rajya Sabha members (Congress, TMC) and two Lok Sabha members (TMC, BJD) skipped all meetings of the HRD committee. Two Lok Sabha members (NC, LJP) missed all five meetings of the Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice committee.
Eleven per cent of the 248 members did not attend any meeting of the committees. The average attendance in each of the 41 meetings was 48.54% with attendance ranging from a low of 5 in case of one meeting of the committee on Home Affairs to 25 in one meeting of the committee on HRD. The average attendance in each of the meetings of these committees ranged from 39% in case of the committee on Home Affairs to 65% in case of the committee on HRD. Member attendance has been below the halfway mark of 16 in case of 23 of the 41 meetings.
At the meeting, Naidu also expressed concern over poor attendance in the meetings of the standing committees of Rajya Sabha like the committees on Subordinate Legislation, Petitions and Papers Laid on the Table.
In a statement, the Rajya Sabha secretariat said he made nine suggestions to improve the functioning of the Parliamentary Committees which include firming up the schedule of meetings much in advance by fixing specific day of the week for the meetings, targeting attendance of 2/3rd of the members of the committees, etc.
Naidu informed the chairmen of the committees he would share the details of attendance at meetings of the eight committees of Rajya Sabha with the Speaker of Lok Sabha. A similar assessment regarding the functioning of the 16 department-related standing committees with the Lok Sabha will be undertaken.