Amid protests from both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition parties, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the sixth straight day on Monday, resulting in a loss of over Rs 10 crore of taxpayers’ money in the six days of the second leg of the Budget Session of Parliament till March 20, considering each minute of running Parliament costs Rs 2.5 lakh to the exchequer. Each day, business in both Houses is scheduled to be conducted for around six hours.
Speaking to FinancialExpress.com, PDT Achary, former Lok Sabha secretary general, said it takes around Rs 2.5 lakh per minute to run Parliament. Providing a breakup of the figure, Achary explained that it includes the upkeep of the building and other maintenance expenditures such as electricity, water, petrol, and food bills, parliament security, salaries and allowances of MPs, their bodyguards, parliament staff and all employees involved directly or indirectly.
“They then work out the average and calculate the amount in terms of minutes or seconds.”
According to the details shared by PRS Legislative, in the second half of the session till March 20, the Lok Sabha functioned for only 1.45 hours out of the scheduled time of 36 hours, while the Rajya Sabha functioned for 2.78 hours out of the scheduled 35.50 hours.
While Rajya Sabha has functioned for 7.84 percent of its scheduled time, Lok Sabha has managed to function for just 4.03 percent of the scheduled time.
Since the beginning of the second phase of the Budget session on March 13, both the houses witnessed disruptions as members from the ruling party and Opposition benches resorted to shouting slogans to push for their respective demands.
While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is demanding an apology from Congress
Staring at a washout
Achary is of the opinion that it is unlikely that any business will get done in the second part of the session that is scheduled to end on April 6. “It is most likely going to be a complete washout as there are no signs of either an apology or a JPC probe. Since there is no consensus between both sides, the disruptions will continue,” he told FinancialExpress.com.
“The second part of the Budget Session has been a non-starter. The failure to have constructive debates to address contentious issues should concern all of us as citizens,” Chakshu Roy, Head of Outreach, PRS Legislative Research, said.
This year, the government has about 36 bills pending in Parliament after the Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023 was introduced in Lok Sabha last week.
In the first half, no bills were passed.
The cost of a dysfunctional Parliament
Disruptions in Parliament have a larger cost than just the taxpayers’ money that it takes to run the two Houses.
“When Parliament does not function, laws needed to address challenges in governance are not legislated, the government gets away with minimal scrutiny over its functioning, and MPs
According to PRS Legislative, in the budget session this year, the Lok Sabha functioned for 43.02 hours out of the scheduled time of 85.60 hours till March 20. Question Hour functioned for 4.5 hours; for legislative purposes, 0.5 hours were spent; for financial matters, 16.20 hours were spent; for debates, 20.10 hours were consumed; and for other business, 2.17 hours were used.
The Rajya Sabha functioned for 29.28 hours out of the scheduled time of 82.75 hours till March 20. Question Hour functioned for 1.85 hours; no time was devoted to legislative business; 2.38 hours were spent on financial matters; for debates, 18.10 hours were used; while 6.95 hours were spent on other matters.
By itself, disruptions in the functioning of the Indian Parliament are not unusual.
To cite another example, during the monsoon session in 2021, Parliament functioned for 18 hours out of the scheduled time of 107 hours, resulting in a loss of more than Rs 133 crore of taxpayers’ money, according to government sources.
This year, the first part of the budget session progressed more or less as planned. However, the second half of the session has so far been washed out by disruptions.