On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s new Parliament building. “It is not only a building. It is a reflection of the aspirations and dreams of 140 crore Indians. This is the temple of our democracy giving the message of India’s determination to the world,” he said. The Congress-led Opposition boycotted the inauguration.
With the new building coming into use from the next Parliament session, this is a review of the performance of the MPs in the old building. The 17th Lok Sabha, entering its final year, has functioned for 230 sitting days so far. Of all the Lok Sabhas that completed the full five-year term, the 16th Lok Sabha had the lowest number of sitting days (331). With one more year remaining, and 58 average sitting days a year, the 17th Lok Sabha is unlikely to sit for more than 331 days. This could make it the shortest full-term Lok Sabha since 1952.
Chart 1 | The chart shows the number of sittings in the last 17 Lok Sabhas, including the ongoing term
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The terms of the fourth, sixth, ninth, eleventh and twelfth Lok Sabha were shorter than five years and so the number of sittings was fewer. Among those terms which lasted for at least five years, the 17th Lok Sabha may end up being the shortest. The term of the fifth Lok Sabha was extended for six years.
The Parliamentary Standing Committees were created in 1993 to assist Parliament in its legislative and financial business. Since 2004, of the total Bills introduced in Parliament, only 45% have been referred to Committees. The decline has been more in recent years with the 16th Lok Sabha and 17th (ongoing) Lok Sabha seeing fewer Bills being sent to Committees.
Chart 2 | The chart shows the % of Bills referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committees
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In this Lok Sabha, so far, 150 Bills have been introduced and 131 have been passed (excluding Finance and Appropriation Bills). In the first session, 38 Bills were introduced and 28 were passed. Since then, the number of Bills introduced and passed has declined. Fewer than 10 Bills have been introduced or passed in each of the last four consecutive sessions.
Chart 3 | The chart shows the number of Bills passed by each Lok Sabha
The latest Budget session was the sixth shortest Budget session since 1952. The Lok Sabha spent 18 hours on financial business, of which 16 hours were spent discussing the Budget. In the previous Budget sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha, financial business was discussed for 55 hours on average.
Chart 4 | The chart shows the time spent on Budget discussions in hours
The Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address was the only item discussed in the latest session. It was discussed for about 28 hours in both Houses, with 150 members participating in total. The Rules of Procedure of both Houses provide for various devices which can be used to draw attention to matters of public importance and hold the government accountable. These include half-an-hour discussions, short duration discussions, and adjournment motions. In the 17th Lok Sabha, only 11 short duration discussions and one half-an-hour discussion have been held so far. None were held in the latest session.
Chart 5 | The chart shows the number of debates conducted in the Lok Sabha
Article 93 of the Constitution states that the Lok Sabha will choose two Members of the House to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker, as soon as possible. The 17th Lok Sabha has not elected a Deputy Speaker even as it enters the final year of its five-year term. This is despite the Supreme Court issuing a notice to the Central government in February 2023 to respond to a PIL regarding the delay.
Chart 6 | The chart shows the days to election of the Deputy Speaker
Source: PRS Legislative Research’s Vital Stats: Parliament Functioning in Budget Session 2023 (The PRS had collated data from the Bulletins of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and the Statistical Handbook)
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