Bills passed without scrutiny: Opposition MPs to Venkaiah Naidu

Economic Times, July 27, 2019

A day after the government pushed through stiff opposition to pass the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, 17 political parties have written to its chairman complaining about the way the Centre is conducting business in the Upper House.

Rajya Sabha members from 17 Opposition political parties have accused the BJP government of flouting “healthy traditions of enacting legislations”. The letter to M Venkaiah Naidu has been signed by MPs from Congress, Trinamool Congress, NCP, Samajwadi Party, DMK, CPI (M), CPI, TRS, TDP, RJD, BSP, AAP, PDP, Janata Dal (S),
Kerala Congress, IUML and MDMK. The MPs have expressed concern over four main points—lack of scrutiny of bills by parliamentary committees, members not being given enough time to study draft legislations and move amendments, long session breaking all precedents, and no shortduration discussions on issues of national importance. “While we understand our responsibility and the need to enact legislation, any attempt by the government to undermine the privilege of member, the rules and established conventions will diminish the role of the council of states as envisaged by our founding fathers,” the letter said.

The MPs pointed out that 14 bills have been passed in the current session of parliament without any parliamentary scrutiny. “In the 14th Lok Sabha, 60% of the bills were sent for scrutiny to parliamentary committees. In the 15th Lok Sabha, 71% of bills were sent for scrutiny. In 16th Lok Sabha, only 26% of bills were sent,” the letter said.

Parliamentarians have also pointed out that the first session of a new Lok Sabha is 8-10 sittings long and passes a handful of bills. “The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha has had 30 sittings. In this period, a dubious record has been set up: 14 bills have been passed and none have been scrutinised by any parliamentary committee,” Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien said.

The MPs took a serious exception to the dip in the number of short-duration discussions and the time being given to them to study legislations. “There is a convention of having one short-duration discussion each week. In the four weeks of the budget session, only two short-duration discussions have been allowed.” said O’ Brien.

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