Time management in Parliament

Business Standard, February 6, 2017
Time management
Be it gram panchayats or the Rajya Sabha, their normal functioning is being frequently obstructed for some reason or the other. Elections and democratic institutions can serve public interest only if legislative functions, in which debates in legislatures have much to contribute, are allowed to proceed without hindrance.
These thoughts came to my mind in the context of the withholding of debates in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on days following the address to the joint session of Parliament by the President and the presentation of the Budget.
The matter points to inadequacies in the handling of the situation after former minister E Ahamed’s collapse in the House and later death in the hospital. The matter needs to be debated by both Houses of Parliament so that if a similar situation arises in the future, it may be handled appropriately.
What is objectionable is a pattern in the functioning of the legislatures. It gives the impression that there is no effort on the part of legislators to ensure that proceedings of the House are not skipped in the name of protests. Why not have a parliamentary committee study the 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).
(ii) Other important matters that are at present raised through adjournment motions or calling attention motions could be taken up immediately after the business scheduled for the day is over.
(iii) Through consensus, give a gap or holiday for running into the well of the House and walking out of the House as part of a protest. Use the entire time available otherwise for debates on issues that come up for discussion.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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