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Mains Answer Writing

24-February-2024

Q1) “The true function of a legislature is to discuss and deliberate and not merely to pass laws.” Do you think the deliberative role of parliament has deteriorated over time? If so, what factors have contributed to this decline? Suggest measures to make the parliament a more effective forum for policy deliberations.

(250 Words/15 Marks)

ANSWER

Parliament is the highest forum for deliberations and discussions on the matters of public importance.

However, in recent times, various concerns have been raised regarding the drastic reduction in both the extent and quality of deliberation in the parliament, as can be seen from:

  1. Lack of deliberation: Absence of quality deliberation has become a norm.

E.g., In the last 7 years, 79% of the budget has been passed without any deliberation; 34% bills in the previous Lok Sabha (16th) were introduced and passed on the same day as compared to 16% in the 15th Lok Sabha.

  1. An increase in promulgation of ordinances.

E.g., The number of ordinances passed during the 16th Lok Sabha and first two years of 17th Lok Sabah surpassed total number of ordinances passed in 14th and 15th Lok Sabha combined.

  1. There has been a decline in average number of days of meeting of Lok Sabha to less than 70 days over the last decade (from around 120 in 1980s) owing to repeated disruptions.
  2. 4. As per critics, misuse of the money bill provision is done to bypass the Upper House.
  3. Undermining the parliamentary committees have had the effect of reducing the threadbare scrutiny of the important bills.

E.g., Lesser bills (from71% in 15th Lok Sabha to 25% in the 16th Lok Sabha) have been referred to the parliamentary committees.

  1. Dilution of the role of exacting executive accountability.

E.g., In the 17th Lok Sabha, only 11 short duration discussions and one half-an-hour discussion have been held so far.

 

The factors that have contributed to the decline in the deliberations in Parliament are:

  1. Frequent interruptions and adjournments is one of the most seminal reasons.

E.g., The amount of time lost due to interruptions and adjournments have increased from 5.28% during the 11th Lok Sabha to 41.6% during the 15th Lok Sabha.

  1. Opposition has not played a constructive role of ensuing quality deliberations.

E.g., Unruly behaviour has become common in recent sessions.

  1. Reports of non-serious and unethical conduct of Members within the Parliament has come to the fore.

E.g., some Members were seen watching pornographic content inside the House.

  1. Politicization of the post of Speaker.

E.g., some critics have highlighted that the opposition is not given adequate time to speak; role of speaker about money bill has come under scrutiny.

  1. Lack of information, poor technological interventions etc.

E.g., as per critics, most of the members rely on outdated published materials.

 

The Parliament can be made an effective body for policy deliberations by:

  1. As recommended by the NCRWC, it should be mandatory for the Houses to meet for a minimum number of days in a year.
  2. The anti-defection law must be tweaked, allowing Members to express their opinion freely.
  3. Disruption of the Proceedings of Parliament (Disentitlement of Allowances) Bill must be passed to penalize members deliberately trying to obstruct the proceedings.
  4. Measures should be taken to initiate more informed debates.

E.g., funds for research teams for MPs; creation of national information reservoir etc.

  1. Certain days of the week can be reserved for the opposition to raise, discuss and debate issues rather than the government dictating the order of business every day of the session.

 

As the Parliament is the most sacrosanct symbol of democracy, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to protect its dignity and make it a platform for healthy and constructive debates

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