Parliament since 2004: A saga of disruption and lack of deliberation | Data

Disruption, mostly led by the BJP, peaked in the UPA-II regime; a significant number of Bills have been passed without adequate deliberation during NDA-II

Updated - December 30, 2023 12:38 pm IST

Published - December 30, 2023 12:21 pm IST

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge with suspended opposition MPs during a protest over their suspension at Mahatma Gandhi statue amid the Winter session of Parliament, in New Delhi

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge with suspended opposition MPs during a protest over their suspension at Mahatma Gandhi statue amid the Winter session of Parliament, in New Delhi

After the suspension of numerous Members of Parliament in the recently concluded Winter Session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi slammed the Opposition parties for disrupting proceedings.

During the 18-day session, the Lok Sabha witnessed a security breach, following which the Opposition demanded a statement from the Union Home Minister. The request was rejected. The Opposition MPs then protested and carried placards into the well of the House. This resulted in the record suspension of 146 MPs.

Interestingly, when Arun Jaitley was the Leader of the Opposition during the UPA-II government, he had said that while parliamentary obstruction should be avoided, disruptions are a “legitimate tactic of the Opposition” if “parliamentary accountability is subverted”. Similarly, Sushma Swaraj, when she was the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, had said that “not allowing Parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form”.

Data of the past two decades show that most interruptions in Parliament occurred during the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-2014) when the BJP was the principal opposition party. Over 50% of the available sitting hours were lost in interruptions then. In the same period, over 40% of the time in the Rajya Sabha was lost in disruptions — the highest in the four Lok Sabhas over the 2004-2023 period.

More than 90% of sitting hours were lost in the 6th session of the 15th Lok Sabha (Chart 1) when the Opposition stalled Parliament over a demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the alleged large-scale corruption and scams in the Commonwealth Games, the 2-G spectrum allocation, and the Adarsh Housing Society. Members of the Opposition had trooped into the well of the House raising slogans. During the same period, the 221st session of the Rajya Sabha lost 88% of sitting hours due to interruptions.

Chart 1 shows the share of sitting hours lost due to interruptions in each session of the last four Lok Sabhas

Chart appears incomplete? Click to remove AMP mode

The 15th session of the 15th Lok Sabha saw over 80% loss in sitting hours due to disruption over the issue of the formation of Telangana, the death of 40 children in Muzaffarnagar relief camps, and the arrest of 150 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, among others (Chart 2).

Chart 2 shows the share of sitting hours lost due to interruptions in each session of the Rajya Sabha.

Despite the disruption, the UPA-II government in the 15th Lok Sabha passed 179 bills. The NDA-led 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019) passed 180 Bills. In the current Lok Sabha, 207 Bills were passed. Parliament passed three criminal law amendment Bills, a Bill regulating telecommunication, and a Bill to regulate the appointment of the Election Commission of India, all in the absence of a majority of the Opposition members.

Worryingly, 64 out of the 172 Bills have been passed in the current Lok Sabha with less than an hour of discussion, based on an analysis of data from PRS Legislative Research (Chart 3). The numbers for the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha were 44 and 24, respectively.

Chart 3 shows the time spent discussing a Bill in the past three legislatures of the Lower House. Each dot corresponds to a Bill passed in the Lok Sabha. Dots marked in red refer to Bills that were passed after being debated for 60 minutes or less.

As many as 61 Bills were passed in the Upper House with less than an hour of discussion in the period corresponding to the 17th Lok Sabha, compared to 34 (2009-2014) and 39 (2014-2019) (Chart 4).

Chart 4 shows thetime spent discussing a Bill in the past three legislatures of the Rajya Sabha. Each dot corresponds to a Bill passed in the Lok Sabha. Dots marked in red refer to Bills that were passed after being debated for 60 minutes or less.

Source: Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, PRS Legislative

Also read: Record breaking suspension of 146 MPs: Which States and parties affected most | Data

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.