Parliament’s winter session least productive in 15 years

Financial Express, December 17, 2016

The ruckus over demonetisation has made the just-concluded winter session of Parliament the least productive in 15 years. It worked for less than a fifth of the scheduled hours and passed just two Bills, including the one to impose hefty tax on unexplained cash deposits after scrapping of R500 and R1,000 notes on November 8.

Legislative business this session has been the lowest so far in the current Parliament (16th Lok Sabha). “Of the scheduled time, Lok Sabha worked for 15% while Rajya Sabha for 18%,” according to PRS Legislative Research. Apart from demonetisation that overwhelmed the session, several hours were also lost due to disruptions over the issue of delay in landing of an aircraft carrying West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. While the Lok Sabha lost 107 hours of scheduled time to disruptions, the Rajya Sabha lost 101 hours.

The Lok Sabha passed the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 within an hour of introduction and without any debate. The Bill, which enabled the government to levy 50% tax on self-declared income and 85% on unexplained wealth traced by the I-T department, was passed as a Money Bill and was deemed to be passed by the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 with about an hour of discussion while the Lok Sabha discussed it for over two hours before approving it on the concluding day of the month-long session on December 16. The new law entitled persons with at least 40% of a disability to certain benefits such as reservations in education and employment and preference in government schemes, among others.

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