Current Lok Sabha scores poorly on productivity

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and other Opposition leaders address the media after walking out from the Lok Sabha on December 18, 2009. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and other Opposition leaders address the media after walking out from the Lok Sabha on December 18, 2009. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

With disruptions and forced adjournments having eaten away a lot of its time over several sessions, the current Lok Sabha is likely to end up with a poor track record of productivity.

Overall, about 37 per cent of the total time spent during 13 sessions of the Lok Sabha between June 1, 2009 and May 10, 2013 was lost due to disruptions and forced adjournments, according to official figures.

A couple of sessions were hit severely: the sixth session from November 9 to December 13, 2010 was almost a total washout with only about 7 hours of sitting being recorded. Mostly, the demand for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam hit proceedings around that time.

It was the coal block allocation controversy that dominated the scene when the eleventh session was on from August 8 to September 7, 2012. Apart from issues relating to black money and violence in Mumbai coming to the fore in the initial days of the session, it was the demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation over the allocation of coal blocks that took over thereafter. About three quarters of the session time were consumed by disruptions and adjournments.

And almost half the time of three other past sessions was also lost due to disruptions and adjournments. These were sessions that took place from November 22 to December 21, 2011, November 22 to December 20, 2012 and February 21 to March 22 as well as April 22 to May 10, 2013.

If the last three sessions that took place between August 2012 to May 2013 are taken into consideration the time lost due to disruptions totalled more than the time spent on sittings.

This has meant that a part of the routine business of the House was affected. A number of Bills have piled up and their passage has hit a roadblock.

Lok Sabhas that have lasted more than 3 years have passed an average of 317 Bills during their tenure whereas the ongoing Lok Sabha has passed only 152 Bills so far (including three Bills passed during the current monsoon session as of August 19), according to data provided to this blog by PRS Legislative Research, a non-governmental organisation. The first Lok Sabha had passed a total of 333 Bills during its five year tenure from 1952.

At the end of the Budget session in May this year, 116 Bills were pending clearance and as of August 19, the Rajya Sabha had passed six of these. And three of the six Bills passed by the Rajya Sabha had already been passed by the Lok Sabha during earlier sessions. The number of Bills awaiting the clearance of the 15th Lok Sabha was 113 (as of August 20).

But how much weightage should be given to sitting hours in assessing the Lok Sabha's overall performance? Replies Chakshu Roy who heads the outreach team at PRS Legislative Research, "Sitting hours and productivity of Parliament are important parameters but they are not the only parameters on which the work done by the legislature can be evaluated. Time spent debating legislation and budgetary proposals, the working of the question hour, the work done by Parliamentary standing committees are some other parameters which can shed light on the effectiveness of Parliament."

But what matters in the end is the availability of quality time. That has been a resource in short supply for the Lok Sabha.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 12:02:23 am |