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Parliament functioning needs regular scrutiny: Speaker

Sunny Sebastian
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“Enactment of law is not easy as one thinks,” says Meira Kumar while inaugurating the conference of presiding officers

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar addressing the 76th conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in Jaipur on Wednesday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar addressing the 76th conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in Jaipur on Wednesday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has stressed on “regular and meaningful scrutiny” of the functioning of Parliament for keeping the system healthy. During more than six decades of its functioning, the country's parliamentary system has established sound precedents and traditions and has reinforced democracy as a whole but aberrations still creep into the system, she said.

“The efficient and effective functioning of our Parliament is an important prerequisite for achieving the goals of democratic governance,” Ms. Kumar said inaugurating the 76 {+t} {+h} conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in India at the Rajasthan Assembly here on Wednesday. “The future of a nation is shaped by its legislative bodies. I strongly believe that we shall constantly uphold the dignity and prestige of all legislative bodies and thereby maintain the high traditions of Parliamentary democracy,” she said.

Rajasthan is hosting the conference for the third time since its inception 1921. Over the years, the conference of presiding officers has evolved into a lively and powerful forum for debate and discussion, Ms. Kumar noted. “The aim of the conference is to focus on the problems we face while functioning with our system and to help to make it more responsive and resilient ,” she said pointing out that apart from matters pertaining parliamentary practices the forum also discussed issues of vital significance to the country's democratic system.

Prior to the inaugural session, Ms. Kumar inaugurated an exhibition mounted by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on the history of Indian Parliament at the Rajasthan Assembly premises.

Speaking about the topics to be taken up in the next two days, the Speaker said the issues such as “Determination of maximum period for assent to bills passed by the legislature; Role of legislatures in scrutinizing and making laws of good governance; and Era of coalition government-its compulsions an challenges” had a crucial bearing on the democratic system.

Referring to the topic, “Role of the legislature in scrutinising and making laws…,” Ms. Kumar said the task of reviewing, examining and discussing the proposed legislation and giving it final shape was immensely important. “Enactment of law is not easy as one thinks,” she pointed out. As for the issue of coalition Governments, she said the growing complexity in the process of representation had a close link to the emergence of the age of coalition in the country. “Very few democracies are today untouched by the phenomenon of coalition and India is no exception. The Indian experience shows that coalitions have not been alien to our soil,” she said.

Presenting an overview of the developments in Parliament since the presiding officers met last in Srinagar in June 2010, Ms. Kumar had this to say on the Lokpal Bill, 2011, introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 4. “The House held a marathon debate on 27 {+t} {+h} August to discuss various issues relating to setting up of a strong and effective Lokpal. The day being Saturday, an extra sitting of the House was called for the purpose. About 126 members expressed their views on the issue before the debate ended with the reply of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee”.

Ms. Kumar noted that it was for the first time that the proceedings of the day were sent to any Standing Committee-in this case the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. This was done after “taking the senses of the House,” she said.

Ms. Kumar, who extolled the culture and heritage of Rajasthan and the bravery of its people, touched a personal note when she mentioned her schooling in Jaipur and her college education in the Banasthali Vidhyapeeth.

In his welcome address, Rajasthan Assembly Speaker said the State Assembly, drawing inspiration from Indian Parliament and other democratic countries of the world, has made every effort to maintain and enhance the parliamentary conventions. The Assembly has maintained special dignity of conduct and established high standards in debate, he noted. Talking about innovations during his time as Speaker, Mr. Shekahwat said the Rajasthan Assembly pioneered the process of putting the whole process of asking questions by the members and the Government departments answering them online.


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