Akali MP Naresh Gujral wants more sittings of Parl

At a time lawmakers are capturing headlines for wrong reasons, a senior Akali Dal MP wants to restore the dignity of Parliament by working harder.

Naresh Gujral, the Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, has moved a private member’s bill seeking to compensate for the hours wasted due to disruptions and ensure at least 100 sittings a year.

The 68-year-old MP, the son of former Prime Minister I K Gujral, came up with the ‘Enhancement of Productivity of Parliament Bill, 2017’, as he feels that productivity is “on a decline” and people “gradually losing faith in the relevance of this institution”.

Gujral

According to the Bill, “the number of hours unutilised due to disruptions shall be compensated by extending each session by as many hours as the sittings were adjourned due to disruptions.” A productive day in Parliament is defined as seven hours.

The Bill is introduced at a time public when continuous disruptions, which in some cases leading to complete washout of an entire session like in the Winter Session of 2016, has come under the public scanner. The recent slapping of an Air India manager by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad and former Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao abusing a police officer have also evoked sharp reactions among public.

Gujral’s Bill is also aimed at avoiding logjams in Parliament’s smooth functioning besides preventing washout of Sessions by giving “equal and adequate voice” to the Opposition in deciding the agenda of Parliament so as to increase accountability of the Government.

It is also looks at the introduction of a 15-day special session in addition to the existing Budget, Monsoon and Winter sessions when at least two subjects of public importance are taken up and not any other business. During this session, the Bill wants at least half of the time allotted to MPs of non-ruling parties.

“Since the inception of Parliament of India in 1952, Parliament used to devote 100 to 120 days of a year to sit in Session. This trend, however, witnessed a decline over decades, bringing down this number to 70 to 80 days in a year,” the Bill said.

“Over the years, disruptions in the smooth functioning of the Parliament Sessions have become a rather common feature in the Indian democracy. This causes grave monetary loss, wastage of time and most importantly, delay in the decision-making on essential issues of public importance or hasty passing of laws without sufficient deliberation,” it said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 26, 2017)

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