The winter session of the 2014 Lok Sabha -that worked for 98% of its scheduled time and cleared 18 government legislations -has become the second most productive session in a decade. The most productive winter session so far has been in 2004 when the government worked for 101% of the time. In sharp contrast, Rajya Sabha worked for 59% of the time and in 15 of the 22 days spent less than three minutes responding to members’ questions.
BJP’s strong majority in LS has meant smooth sail-ing for the party but its low numbers in RS have led to a near impasse in the last two weeks of the session.
According to data analysed by PRS Legislative Research, the Lower House spent 44% of its productive time on discussing various issues, 35% on legislation and 14% on answering questions. The Upper House decided to extend its sitting time by an hour ever day to provide more time to MPs to raise matters in the House. However, RS worked for only 59% of its scheduled time. Of this, 34% was spent on discussing issues, 33% on legislation and a low 8% on answering questions.
The question hour was a study in contrasts as well. In the Lower House, 23% of scheduled questions were answered orally. This is amongst the highest percentage of questions during a session since 2004. In RS, to ensure smooth functioning of the question hour, the time was moved from 11 to 12 noon. However, only 12% of the scheduled questions were answered orally in RS. Question hour in the Upper House lasted for less than three minutes each day for 15 of the 22 days. About 100 questions were answered orally in LS as compared to 44 in RS. LS did not disappoint when it came to handling legislative business either.
Both Houses passed 11 bills in this session. These included three bills related to higher education and two addressing labour laws. About 15 bills were introduced during the session of which 11 were passed in LS without being referred to a standing committee for detailed examination.
Two of the 11 bills passed in LS -Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014 and Payment and Settlement Systems Bill, 2014 -were referred to select committees of RS on the last day of the session. Bills introduced during the session relate to citizenship, goods and services tax, electricity, anti-hijacking, Lokpal and Lokayukta laws.
Speaking at the end of the session, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan thanked opposition parties for the smooth functioning of the House.