The Opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha recently accused that the central government cleared several bills in a hurry without sending them to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for further scrutiny. It is surprising to see that they are objecting to the fact that the Parliament has been utilizing more of its time to bring law & they have a problem with the fact that Parliament has enhanced its productive hours & has been performing better than ever.
Law-making and amending the already existing laws according to the need is the main function of the Parliament. Now, it is beyond understanding that if Parliament is functioning in a better way and doing the work which it is supposed to do – bringing new laws or amending the existing ones – then why is the Opposition parties are having any issues with that?
The accusations of not sending the bills to the parliamentary committees and scrutinising them are completely unfounded and beyond facts. The truth is that the UPA government had sent only five bills tabled in the Rajya Sabha to the Select Committee of Parliament from 2009 to 2014, while the NDA government has sent 17 bills to the review committee from 2014 to 2019. So this proves that Opposition's charges are completely false and have no merit.
Those who are questioning the smooth functioning of the House are the same people who are creating chaos and obstructing the debates in the Rajya Sabha. Parliamentarians who are making unsubstantial remarks on Parliament's functioningtoday should ask themselves why sessions were stalled during the Monsoon Session 2015, Budget Session 2018, Winter Session 2018 and the Interim Budget Session 2019. It is shocking that rather than positively taking part in the debates and discussions in Parliament, people who obstruct the work on several occasions, are raising the questions that why the House is performing well!
It has been a part of the parliamentary tradition that amendments and provisions related to strengthening any institute of the central government were not sent to the Select Committee. It is correct that sending a bill to the select committees has been a part of the process of the House, but it is also true that it is not mandatory. Sometimes, Select Committees suggest changes in the laws and as a result, those recommendations are implemented in some bills.
But, there is an important fact which can't be ignored that despite being reviewed by Select Committees, some bills are not passed in the House in the absence of the session. This is the reason those bills are again tabled in the House. Most of these bills are those which were passed in the Lok Sabha and cleared by the standing committees but still they had to be brought in the House as they already lapsed. For example, The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was reviewed by the Standing Committee and then passed by the Lok Sabha. After that Rajya Sabha sent the bill to Select Committee but in between this, the bill got expired and had to be tabled in the Lok Sabha again. Similarly, the Triple Talaq Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha twice after making certain changes suggested by the Opposition. Since the bill failed to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle on both the occasions, it had to be passed in Lok Sabha for the third time.
There are several bills that have been reviewed either by the Select Committee or the Standing Committee but they are still pending in the Rajya Sabha. For example - the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019, Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, Code of Wages, 2019, the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The current session of Parliament has been more effective than the previous ones in terms of enactment of law. This session has also been more productive in terms of work and at times the proceedings of the House continued even after 6 pm. Besides passing the bills, meaningful discussions were held on several important issues. A number of important issues of public importance have also been discussed in the House through the Zero Hour and Calling Attention Motion. Apart from all this, the functioning of this session also includes private proposals related to several issues and private bills of the members. The Question Hour has also been meaningful in this session which is crucial in terms of the government's accountability. An important fact which needs to be paid attention is that 4 of the last five sessions were wasted but still, 29 discussions have taken place from 2014 to 2019 during the NDA government. This is more than the 27 discussions which had taken place from 2009 to 2014 during the UPA regime.
The work of the House is finalised by the Business Advisory Committee of Parliament, in which all parties are represented and all the bills are listed according to the allotted time after they are passed by the above committee. This is significant that long over discussions have resumed in Parliament after a long time. This has happened when parliamentary sessions have been irregular due to interruptions and unnecessary interventions.
Lawmaking is Parliament's most important work and Opposition's constructive feedback and meaningful interventions play a decisive role in this process. But the Opposition parties can't be encouraged only for creating hurdles. The Opposition needs to understand that approvals and disapprovals on any bill are acceptable but unnecessary hindrance is not right for a healthy democracy. The Opposition needs to sense its importance and wisely work in the direction of making democracy even more stronger. It is encouraging to see that during the ongoing session more parliamentary business has been accomplished as compared to any previous session.
Disclaimer: The writer is the national general secretary of the BJP and Rajya Sabha MP. The views expressed in the article are the personal opinions of the author. They do not reflect the views of News Nation. The NNPL does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.