News Analysis Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Assembly sittings see a declining trend

A view of Fort St. George, where the Tamil Nadu State Assembly usually convenes.

A view of Fort St. George, where the Tamil Nadu State Assembly usually convenes.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

The current year — 2020 — may create a “record of sorts” with the 15th Assembly having the lowest number of sittings in a year. This year, the House met only on 23 days, including the first two days of the ongoing session. Wednesday is going to be the last day for the current round of sittings.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic was the major reason for the curtailment of the duration of the Assembly when the demands for grants for various departments were taken up in March, a decline in the number of sittings per year has been the trend in recent years.

Tamil Nadu Assembly sittings see a declining trend
 

Highest average

Between 1952 and 1991 (up to the end of the Ninth Assembly), the average number of sittings per year varied from 50 to 68. In fact, the highest average of 68.4 was registered during June 1980-November 1984 when the House met on 301 days.

The trend of the State legislature meeting for lesser days began with the 10th Assembly (1991-96). Since then, the average number of sittings exceeded the 50-day mark only once — during 1996-2001.

But this is not confined to Tamil Nadu. Parliament and other State legislatures are no exception. Over the years, several constitutional experts have called for steps to increase the number of sittings per year.

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000-02), headed by former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah, had prescribed that the Houses of State legislatures with less than 70 members should meet for at least 50 days a year and other Houses at least 90 days.

A view of the Kalaivanar Arangam where the Tamil Nadu Assembly session is scheduled to meet on September 14, in Chennai.

A view of the Kalaivanar Arangam where the Tamil Nadu Assembly session is scheduled to meet on September 14, in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

 

R. Avudaiappan, former Speaker of the Assembly (2006-11) and senior DMK leader from Tirunelveli, said the trend was not healthy. It would be ideal if demands for grants for one or two departments are taken up on a day. But, sometimes, even 10 departments are covered in a day, something that should be avoided. Likewise, sufficient time should be given for discussion of the pros and cons of Bills.

AIADMK leader Anwhar Raajha, who has served in both the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, reiterated the demand for a constitutional amendment with regard to the number of sittings per year for the State legislature and for Parliament. He said that unless this is done, there would not be much improvement.

C.K. Thamilarasan, a four-time former legislator and now heading the Indiya Kudiyarasu Katchi, said the rising cost is one of the major factors for the trend. In the present circumstances, what the presiding officers should do is to conduct the proceedings impartially, giving fair opportunities to all members to participate in debates, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 6:22:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-nadu-assembly-sittings-see-a-declining-trend/article32617697.ece

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