February 3, 2017
Allow legislatures to function*

From Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) to Gram Panchayats, normal functioning is being regularly obstructed for one reason or the other. The elections and having democratic institutions will serve public interest only if legislative functions, in which debates in legislatures have much to contribute, are allowed to proceed without let or hindrance. These thoughts come to mind today in the context of withholding of debates in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on days following the address to the joint session of Parliament by President and presentation of Union Budget by the Finance Minister.
There is no denying that the issue raised, namely inadequacies in handling of the situation arising after former minister E Ahmed’s collapse in the House and later demise in hospital  needs to be debated by both the houses of parliament as similar situations in future can be handled more appropriately in future, if lapses have occurred in this case.
What is objectionable is a pattern in the functioning of legislatures which gives an impression that there is no effort on the part of legislators themselves to ensure that the house proceedings are not ‘skipped’ in the name of protests. Why not a Parliamentary Committee go into the issue of conduct of business while parliament is in session? The Committee could examine the possibility of:
(i)                A consensus on completing the day’s business before other matters
are taken up for discussion (Emergent issues or condolences could be exempted from this).
(ii)              Other matters of importance, like those now raised through
 adjournment motions or calling attention motions could be taken up immediately after the business scheduled for the day are over
(iii)           To begin with, through consensus, give a gap or holiday for
running into the ‘well of the house’ and walking out of the house as protest and use the entire time and energy for debates on issues that come up for discussion.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*A brief and edited version published in the Hindu Business Line on February 4, 2017.


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