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Mains Answer Writing

13-october-2023

1.  ‘The declining role of Parliament undermines the fundamental principle of separation of powers, as it diminishes the legislature’s ability to serve as a check on the executive branch and ensure a balanced exercise of power.’ Discuss.

ANSWER:

The Parliament of India is the highest law-making authority in India. Along with this, it provides a platform for representatives of the people to discuss and deliberate upon matters of public importance. Hence, it serves as the voice of the people in the country. The most important role that Parliament performs is that it holds the government accountable for its policies and schemes.

THE DECLINING ROLE OF THE PARLIAMENT

  1. Over the years, there has been a decline in the sitting days of Parliament. While Lok Sabha met for an average of 130 days in a year during the 1950s, these sittings came down to 70 days in the 2000s.
  2. There has been less scrutiny of bills and frequent use of motions like closure, guillotine, etc.
  3. In the 16th Lok Sabha, Question Hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%.
  4. Only 15% of the Bills before the 17th Lok Sabha were referred to Committees. Almost 70% of the Bills in the present 17th Lok Sabha are passed within 70-80 minutes of discussion.

THE DECLINING ROLE OF PARLIAMENT VIOLATES THE SEPARATION OF POWER

  1. Poor Oversight: Article 75 of the Indian Constitution holds the Council of Ministers responsible to the Lok Sabha collectively. However, diminished parliamentary productivity and poor debates in parliament led to the diminishing ability of the legislature to serve as a check on the executive branch of the State.
  2. Overuse of Ordinance-Making Powers: This is done to prevent parliamentary scrutiny and debates over issues where the ruling party doesn’t have majority support in both Houses. For e.g., the three farm bills were introduced by ordinances.
  3. Function Encroachment: Since the Opposition often lacks numerical strength in the House, the Parliament often passes Bills as per the whims and fancies of the Executive.
  4. Poor Scrutiny of Bills: The declining number of bills referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for greater debate and discussion points to the tendency of the Executive to bypass the Legislature thereby creating a disbalance in the exercise of the power.
  5. Over Dependence on Delegated Legislations: Poor working often pushes the Legislatures to overuse delegated legislations where the Executive has delegated the power to design the structure and detailing of the Act. This goes against the principle of Separation of Powers.
  6. Disenfranchisement of Constituencies: In Ashish Shelar vs Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Case, observed that the poor functioning of Legislatures is equivalent to the disenfranchisement of their respective constituencies.
  7. Anti-Defection Law: In Lok Sabha, a member of the ruling party is unable to hold the government accountable. This is because he is bound by the whip of the party. This renders Article 75(3) ineffective as no government can be held accountable by its own members who form a majority in Lok Sabha.

WAY FORWARD

  1. The scope of the Anti-Defection Law should be reduced to No Confidence Motions and Money Bills which are essential for the stability of the government.
  2. Mandatory Scrutiny of the Bills except Money Bills should be there by the Committees.
  3. The powers to convene parliament should be given to parliament only and not to the President. In Pakistan, a session of Parliament is convened within 14 days if one-fourth of its membership demands one.
  4. All party meetings must be convened regularly to reduce disruptions and frequent deadlocks.
  5. A calendar of sittings should be provided to MPs every year to help them manage their work during the time of Parliament sitting.
  6. Parliamentary Secretariat must be adequately resourced with experts for MPs to take help in understanding complex policy issues and decisions.

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