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Explained | How productive was the 2022 Monsoon Session?
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The ninth session performed the second-worst in the 17th Lok Sabha, with both Houses failing to sit for even half of the allotted time.

August 12, 2022 10:02 pm | Updated August 23, 2022 11:51 am IST

File photo of an opposition member protesting in the Rajya Sabha during Monsoon Session of Parliament.

File photo of an opposition member protesting in the Rajya Sabha during Monsoon Session of Parliament. | Photo Credit: PTI

The story so far: The Monsoon Session of Parliament ended four days ahead of schedule after both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die on August 8. The ninth session of the Lok Sabha and 257th session of the Rajya Sabha were the second worst in terms of functioning in the 17th Lok Sabha so far. This is also the seventh consecutive time in this Lok Sabha when a session has been cut short ahead of the scheduled date

In 16 sittings against the scheduled 18, both Houses functioned for less than 50 per cent of the allotted time as proceedings were marred by frequent disruptions and multiple adjournments over issues ranging from inflation to suspension of MPs and the ‘misuse’ of central investigating agencies. The truncated session also left an impact on legislative business, with Parliament passing only five Bills. At the start of the session, the Centre had set an agenda of over 30 legislations to be introduced or considered and passed in the session.

A look at the 2022 Monsoon Session, recorded legislative activity and why it was cut short.

How did the two Houses perform?

The Monsoon Session began on July 18 and ended after 16 sittings each in both Houses on August 8 — two working days ahead of the scheduled culmination on August 12. It was the second-shortest working session in terms of sittings. The Monsoon Session of 2020 sat for 10 days.

At the start of the session, 108 hours were allotted (one sitting typically has six hours) for business. Of these, 62 hours were reserved for government business which included 14 pending Bills and the introduction of 24 Bills. The session, however, didn’t turn out to be very productive, with Parliament passing only five of the over two dozen listed Bills on its agenda. One draft legislation was withdrawn and another was referred to a parliamentary committee.

 

Lok Sabha: The session was the second-least productive in the 17th Lok Sabha so far. The House functioned for 48 per cent of the scheduled sitting time. It logged 44 hours and 29 minutes and passed seven Bills. The Monsoon Session of 2021 was the worst recorded in terms of productivity. The session passed 22 Bills but only sat for 21 per cent of the allotted time.

Rajya Sabha: Rajya Sabha has been consistently seeing a drop in productivity in the past few years. The Upper House met for 38 hours during this session while 47 hours were lost to disruptions. The productivity of the House was 44 per cent in which five Bills were passed. Both parameters witnessed a drop when compared with the previous sessions. The Upper House recorded its worst performance in the 2021 Monsoon Session, when it reported a productivity of 29 per cent.

Meanwhile, two legislations passed by Lok Sabha were pending when the session was adjourned.

Legislative activity

The Centre aimed to introduce 24 Bills and move 14 pending ones, but only a total of six Bills were introduced and five were passed in the Monsoon Session.

 

Bills introduced in Lok Sabha:

  1. The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 
  2. The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 
  3. The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  4. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  5. The Competition Amendment Bill, 2022
  6. The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022

The controversial Electricity Amendment Bill, which has sparked protests across the country, was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 8. It was, however, referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy for wider consultation amid strong protests by the Opposition. Those against the legislation allege that the Bill is against the federal structure of the Constitution and seeks to take away the rights of State governments. The Bill proposes to amend the Electricity Act to allow non-discriminatory open access to distribution networks of power suppliers.

Bills passed by Lok Sabha

  1. The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022
  2. The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  3. The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021
  4. The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021
  5. The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  6. The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  7. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022

Bills passed by Parliament (after Rajya Sabha nod) 

  1. The National Anti-Doping Bill 2021, 
  2. The Indian Antarctic Bill 2022, 
  3. The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill 2022, 
  4. The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and 
  5. The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022

Bills introduced but pending in Rajya Sabha 

  1. The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  2. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022

Bill withdrawn

In a move that surprised many, the Centre withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 from Lok Sabha on August 3, saying it will come out with a “set of fresh legislations that fit into the comprehensive legal framework.” The withdrawal was made part of the supplementary agenda of the Lok Sabha.

A Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology circular stated that “a comprehensive legal framework is being worked on” considering the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee which proposed 81 amendments. The Bill was referred to the Joint Committee of the Houses for examination after it was introduced in December 2019. The JPC report was presented to Lok Sabha in December 2021.

The Bill proposed restrictions on the use of personal data without the explicit consent of citizens and sought to provide the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the Act.

How many Bills are pending now?

Before the start of the session, 35 Bills were pending in Parliament. During the Monsoon Session, six new legislations were introduced, five passed and one was withdrawn. At the end of the Monsoon Session, 35 Bills were pending in Parliament, as per a report by the PRS Legislative Research.

Non-legislative business

The first two weeks of the Monsoon Session were washed out due to continuous protests and sloganeering by the Opposition over demands for debate on the continuing price rise. Both Houses failed to transact any significant business amid repeated disruptions and adjournments, while four Lok Sabha members and 23 Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended for violating norms. After initially citing the absence of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as the reason for the delay in scheduling the debate, the Centre later blamed the Opposition for the din, saying it was ready to discuss price rise. 

The discussion on price rise was finally taken up in the Lok Sabha on August 1 under Rule 193 and on rising prices of essential items in Rajya Sabha the following day as a short duration discussion. While 31 speakers in the Lower House spent 6.4 hours discussing the issue of price rise, 33 MPs from the Upper House debated the issue for 5.8 hours, as per the PRS report on the 2022 Monsoon Session.

Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar bites into a brinjal in the Lok Sabha to protest against price rise. Sansad TV/PTI

Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar bites into a brinjal in the Lok Sabha to protest against price rise. Sansad TV/PTI | Photo Credit: -

Protests, however, continued in both Houses. This time, the Opposition attacked the Centre for “misusing” central investigating agencies to settle political scores. These protests came in response to the questioning of Congress’s Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald money laundering case. Parliament also witnessed disruptions over ED action against Young Indian, a not-for-profit company that owns the Associated Journal Limited-controlled National Herald newspaper. 

Another debate, on the need to promote sports in India, was taken up in the Lok Sabha, but could not be concluded.

Question Hour marred by disruptions

In 16 sittings each in the two Houses, Question Hour was held for the entire duration only on two days in Lok Sabha and four days in Rajya Sabha. There was no Question Hour in Rajya Sabha for seven days. The crucial hour is devoted to questions raised by MPs to ministers on government functioning and administrative activities. A total of 554 starred questions were admitted in the Monsoon Session. As per the PRS report, around 14 per cent of the starred questions were answered orally in Lok Sabha, while the figure stood at 27 per cent for Rajya Sabha.

Why was the session cut short?

The Monsoon session, which was scheduled to be in session until August 12, was adjourned two working days ahead of the due date as the rest of the days were marked as holidays on account of Muharram (August 9) and Raksha Bandhan (August 11). “The Session, which was originally scheduled to have 18 sittings from 18th July to 12th August, was curtailed due to completion of essential Government Business and demand of members because of two gazetted and the Parliamentary holidays ahead,” the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs stated in a statement.

Sources in the government added that the members were in favour of the earlier conclusion of the session as they wanted to visit their constituencies for upcoming festivals.

TMC’s Derek O’Brien, however, slammed the government and wrote in a tweet, “We will fight for its sanctity and prevent PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah from turning this great institution into the Gujarat Gymkhana.”

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