Governance

Bills not sent to any committee in ‘productive’ Parliament session

The five Bills that were scrutinised by some or the other committee were not introduced in the current session

 
By Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Thursday 08 August 2019
None of legislation introduced this Parliament session were referred to any committee. PhotoGetty Images

The achievements of the current session of Parliament, closing August 7, 2019, have been the talk of the town. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla even labelled it the most productive sitting since 1952. Amid the self congratulation, a factor remained away from the limelight: None of legislations introduced this session was referred to any committee.

Excluding the Finance and Appropriation Bills, 38 others were introduced in the session, according to PRS Legislative Research. Of these 28 were passed — the highest for any session in the last decade — said the non-profit studying parliamentary proceedings.

Five of the Bills passed were scrutinised by committees one way or the other, but all during the tenure of the previous Lok Sabha.

After the Narendra Modi-led government was voted back to power, the first session of Parliament was convened June 17. It was to conclude on July 26, but was extended to August 7.

Standing committees have acted as whetstones to sharpen legislation in the past and have also helped in raising crucial flags from time to time.

Bills introduced this session dealt with contentious issues such as the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, changes in Right to Information, restructuring the medical profession, etc.

Unusual hurry

Twenty-five of the Bills were discussed in only five working days from their introduction. Three were introduced, discussed, and passed on the same day in the Rajya Sabha, according to PRS.

“Are we delivering pizzas or passing legislation?” Derek O’ Brien, a member of the Rajya Sabha from the All-India Trinamool Congress, asked recently. He called such haste a “mockery of Parliament”.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha spent 46 and 51 per cent of their time, respectively, on legislative business, PRS said. The lower house worked for 135 per cent of what it was scheduled to: 281 hours — higher than any other session in the last two decades.

Despite the passage of so much time, the Lok Sabha is yet to elect a deputy speaker. Article 93 of the Constitution mandates the election of both a Speaker and a deputy at the earliest.

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