Haryana Assembly met for only 56 days in five years

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Economic Times, September 26, 2014

The outgoing Haryana assembly has met for only 56 days in five years, an average of 11 days a year. The Lok Sabha, whose disruption keeps making news, on the other hand, sat for an average of 69 days a year during the same period.

Among state assemblies, only Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have a worse record than Haryana. As per the Constitution, a state assembly should hold at least one session every six months.

However, it does not specify a minimum number of days for each session. From the beginning of its term in 2009 to September 2014, the Haryana assembly held only 11 sessions.

The data collected by PRS Legislative Research under the Right to Information act shows that of the yearly average of 11 days, eight were spent on discussing the budget. Only 3-4 days were spent on debating bills introduced in these five years.

State assembly sessions usually are shorter than Parliament sessions, yet in the same period, the Kerala assembly sat for an average of 50 days per year, while the tally for Tamil Nadu was 44 days.

A total 129 bills mainly related to universities, tax appropriation and land regulation were passed by the House during its tenure. All of these were discussed and passed on the same day they were introduced.

Unlike Parliament, where most bills are referred to a standing committee for its consideration and recommendation, Haryana assembly did not refer a single bill to any such committee. On some days, as many as 23 bills were passed, which hardly allowed any time for discussion. As many as 72 bills were passed without discussion. Only seven bills were discussed for more than 20 minutes.

“Not only in Haryana, passage of several bills in few sitting days without debate is happening across several states according to data we have collected,” said Anil Nair, head of state initiative at PRS Legislative Research.

“It results in MLAs not getting an opportunity to effectively hold the government accountable or contribute to lawmaking process of a state”, he added. Elected members are accountable to voters and poor performance in the assembly see legislators not raising important issues concerning people defeating the very idea of elected governments.

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