This year’s monsoon session of the parliament ended on Wednesday with a disappointment. No scrutiny over the bills passed in the parliament was taken care of. While the opposition was more concerned about the discussion over some important issues such as the snooping use of Pegasus spyware, farm laws, Covid-19 response and economic problems to name a few.
The government was seen pushing through 20 bills mostly without any debate or discussions.
Only 15 minutes of discussion was seen over only one of the 18 bills passed by the Lok Sabha. In 15 of these bills, not even a single member of the Lok Sabha spoke and the bill was eventually passed just after a short introduction or the statement given by the respective minister.
During the entire monsoon session, the newspapers were full of reports about the passing of the bills in a fraction of minutes without any scrutiny or discussions over them. Most of the bills were passed through vague procedures like voice votes and no serious discussions followed by the necessary amendments by the opposition took place.
None of the bills were sent to the parliamentary committees which undertakes a detailed examination of the bill and invites comments from the experts, stakeholders and citizens. It also requires the government to appear before the committee to present its viewpoint. All this results in a report that makes suggestions for strengthening the Bill.
While the committee is deliberating on a Bill, there is a pause in its legislative journey. Hence, parliamentarians were afforded to skip all the above procedures and no scrutiny and clause-by-clause consideration of the Bills as introduced or as reported by the Select/Joint Committee took place.
According to the reports laid down by PRS, on average the Parliament passed a bill within 7 days of introduction. To point out a few disruptions, few bills such as the Tribunal Reform Bills, 2021 and the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by Lok Sabha the very next day after its introduction.
Three important bills namely, The Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2021, The Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021 and The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2021 were passed by Lok Sabha in just 20 minutes.
Neither a speech was given by the concerned member nor there was a reply from the finance minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman. Even a large supplementary budget was passed in less than 10 minutes.
The house was seen to be adjourned immediately after any bill was passed. The bills were also introduced and passed during the same sessions which again led us to the conclusion that there was no time for scrutiny by the members.
In the current Lok Sabha, on average, 70% of the Bills have been introduced and passed in the same session. In the 16th Lok Sabha, 33% of the Bills were introduced and passed in the same session.
There was an amendment moved in the Rajya Sabha to refer the Tribunals Bill to a select committee of that House, and the motion was rejected by 79 votes to 44. Given that there are currently 232 members, this proves that half of the members were absent during the time of voting.
Thus, we can conclude that mostly all the bills which were passed during this monsoon session lacked all the serious and necessary discussions, debates, and scrutiny over them. Also, in most instances, the bills were passed within very few minutes or a few days of introduction.
To sum up, this year the parliament seemed to be the most ineffective in all its measures and procedures. It failed miserably to perform its functions, be it keeping a check on the executive or its function of passing the bills. The Government managed to get all the bills passed as and when they were introduced in the parliament without any discussions or debates on any of the policies of the bill.
Hence, It’s high time parliamentarians understand the importance of parliamentary democracy and stop abridging the procedures through which the bills have to be passed.