Rajya Sabha rules of procedure likely to be overhauled

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Economic Times, February 20, 2020

The rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Rajya Sabha are likely to see major changes with a parliamentary panel mulling over a proposal to make 77 amendments and bring 124 new rules to deal with some of the archaic procedures and usher in more clarity.

Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu chaired a meeting of the General Purposes Committee of the Upper House on Wednesday which was attended by leaders from 23 political parties. He had constituted a Rules Review Committee in May 2018 comprising VK Agnihotri, former secretary general of Rajya Sabha, and Dinesh Bhardwaj, former additional secretary in the ministry of law and justice to look into the issue.

This committee has come up with these suggestions after holding 51 rounds of meetings with officials. The review committee had examined existing rules, practices, directions and rulings by the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament. Naidu and deputy chairperson Harivansh as well as members of various parties also gave their suggestions. The best practices of other democracies were also looked into.

At the GPC meeting on Wednesday, the committee’s report, that contains 77 amendments to the existing rules and 124 new rules, were put up for consideration.

“The review of rules seeks to impart clarity to several ambiguous provisions of the present rules, besides incorporating certain directions given by Naidu as well as addressing certain eventualities not envisaged earlier like voting/division when the House is not in order,” a government source said.

This would be the most comprehensive revision of rules since 1964. GPC has so far submitted 13 reports in the past and alterations were made from time to time on the basis of these recommendations. Unhappy with frequent disruption of business of the House, Naidu had expressed the desire for a comprehensive review of the existing rules, especially those which are “inadequate with the passage of time” and are not very specific.

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