Budgets and Bills passed with little deliberation

Madhya Pradesh passed 85% of its Budget without discussion in 2023 followed by Kerala and Jharkhand

May 06, 2024 05:30 pm | Updated 05:30 pm IST

View of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly building in Bhopal.

View of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly building in Bhopal.

In 2023, of the Rs. 18.5 lakh crore budget presented by 10 States, close to 40% was passed without discussion. In five States, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which examines accounts of State governments, did not table any reports in the year considered. Moreover, five State legislatures passed all Bills on the day they were introduced or the next day. As many as 20 States also saw 84 Ordinances being promulgated in 2023.

These observations are based on PRS Legislative Research’s Annual Review of State Laws 2023. The report analyses the performance of State legislatures in various key functions.

Once the Finance Minister announces the Budget, it goes for general discussion. Following this, there is a scrutiny of demands by committees. After this, there is discussion and voting on Ministry expenditure. However, in 10 States for which data was available, 36% of the expenditure demands were voted on and passed without being discussed. Madhya Pradesh passed 85% of its Rs. 3.14 lakh crore Budget without discussion, the highest among the ten States. Kerala came second with 78%, followed by Jharkhand (75%) and West Bengal (74%). 

Chart 1 | The chart shows the proportion of the Budget passed without discussion in 10 States.

Chart appears incomplete? Click to remove AMP mode

The PAC, typically chaired by the Leader of the Opposition or a senior member from the Opposition, scrutinises the accounts of State governments and State reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. However, in 2023, the PAC held 24 sittings and tabled 16 reports on average in the States considered. In five of the 13 States for which data was available — Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra and Odisha — the PAC did not table any reports. Alarmingly, the PAC in Maharashtra neither met nor released a report during the year. In contrast, the PAC in Tamil Nadu tabled 95 reports followed by Himachal Pradesh where the committee tabled 75 reports. Both Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had 50 sittings or more by the PAC though not a single report was tabled in the latter. 

Chart 2 | The chart shows the number of sittings and reports tabled by the PAC in 2023.

An analysis of the time taken by State legislatures to pass Bills shows that many were passed quickly with minimal debate. In fact, 44% of the Bills were passed either on the same day they were introduced in the Assembly or the next day. The figure is consistent with the trend observed in 2022 (56%) and 2021 (44%). In Gujarat, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Puducherry, and Punjab, all Bills were passed on the day of introduction or the next day. In 13 of 28 State legislatures, Bills were passed within five days of introduction. Kerala and Meghalaya took more than five days to pass more than 90% of their Bills. About 55% of Bills in Rajasthan were also passed after more than five days of deliberation. 

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Chart 3 | The chart shows the time taken by the State legislatures to pass Bills in 2023.

The Constitution grants the Governor the power to promulgate Ordinances, ie, formally announce certain temporary laws, when the State Legislative Assembly is not in session.

Chart 4 | The chart shows the Ordinances promulgated by States in 2023. 

84 Ordinances were promulgated in 20 States covering a range of subjects including, new universities (Uttar Pradesh), public examinations (Uttarakhand), and ownership of apartments (Maharashtra). The highest number of Ordinances was promulgated by Uttar Pradesh (20), followed by Andhra Pradesh (11), and Maharashtra (9). In 2023, only four Ordinances were promulgated in Kerala, compared to 15 in 2022, and 144 in 2021.

Andhra Pradesh: AP; Jharkhand: JH; Puducherry: PY; Karnataka: KA; Punjab: PB; Assam: AS; Kerala: KL; Rajasthan: RJ; Bihar: BR; Madhya Pradesh: MP; Sikkim: SK; Chhattisgarh: CG; Maharashtra: MH; Tamil Nadu: TN; Delhi: DL; Telangana: TS; Goa: GA; Meghalaya: MG; Gujarat: GJ; Mizoram: MZ; Uttarakhand: UK; Haryana: HR; Nagaland: NL; Uttar Pradesh: UP; Himachal Pradesh: HP; Odisha: OD; West Bengal: WB

Source: PRS Legislative Research’s Annual Review of State Laws 2023

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