Parliament scaled new heights, broke fresh ground in 2019

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Published: January 1, 2020 4:23:30 PM

The newly constituted 17th Lok Sabha saw two-time MP Om Birla unanimously elected as Lok Sabha speaker, younger than his predecessor, eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan, and with relatively less experience.

In 1984, the Rajya Sabha passed 80 bills in 63 sittings, averaging 1.26 bills per day.

With both houses recording near 100 per cent productivity and landmark but contentious legislations such as the Citizenship Amendment Act, abrogation of Article 370 provisions and prohibition of triple talaq being enacted, 2019 was the year Parliament broke 60-year records. The year that went by witnessed a less disruptive parliament compared to previous years with members of both houses sitting beyond the allocated time to discuss issues concerning the public and passing key legislations. Several precedents were broken.

The newly constituted 17th Lok Sabha saw two-time MP Om Birla unanimously elected as Lok Sabha speaker, younger than his predecessor, eight-term MP Sumitra Mahajan, and with relatively less experience. It was a rare instance of a younger MP with lesser experience being elected as speaker. The Upper House passed 52 Bills during the 65-odd sittings in 2019 — an output of 0.80 bills per day (four bills in five days) which is the best in the last 36 years — official sources said. Nearly 50 bills were passed in the first two sessions of the Lok Sabha this year, which saw an innovative speaker ensure that every member got a chance to speak during zero hour at least once in the session. He also ensured that this Lok Sabha sat late in the night, even till midnight, to give an opportunity to every member to speak out and raised issues concerning public.

The house sat for 40 days with an average sitting of more than two hours per day. The Rajya Sabha, which saw its 250th sitting during the year, also tried to break with precedent by changing the dress of its marshals — from colonial style to one closely resembling to the uniform of armed personnel. It was later changed to the original dress without the headgear. Unlike last year, when it stuck down some of the key legislations, the contentious bills passed this year thanks to the ruling BJP’s rising strength. Prime Minister Narendra Modi observed that Parliament has broken records of the last 60 years and lauded parliamentarians and political parties for their role. “We consider our Parliament as the temple of our democracy.

Today, I wish to proudly mention, that the parliamentarians that you have elected have broken all the records of the last 60 years. In the last 6 months, both the sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha have been very productive. Lok Sabha’s productivity stands at 114 per cent, while that of Rajya Sabha is 94 per cent,” he said. “So much accomplishment, in itself shows the strength of Indian democracy and the faith in democracy. I wish to congratulate all the presiding officers, all political parties and all members of Parliament for their active role in this regard,” he said.

In 1984, the Rajya Sabha passed 80 bills in 63 sittings, averaging 1.26 bills per day. This year’s productivity has been the best since then with Sessions of comparable duration, officials said. The year that was also proved to be the best since M Venkaiah Naidu assumed office of the chairman of Rajya Sabha in August 2017. Productivity in terms of legislative output was 0.70 bill per day during 2017 and plummeted to 0.28 bills per day during 2018. The legislative output of the Rajya Sabha has increased by almost three times in 2019 from that of the preceding year.

The Upper House also saw complete 250 sessions. “The ship of Rajya Sabha which has been passing through turbulent waters for sometime has now been steadied,” Naidu said. He also noted that it was for the first time that two successive sessions of Rajya Sabha (249th and 250th Sessions) reported about 100 per cent productivity. In 2019, the Rajya Sabha chairman introduced new norms for taking up starred questions, Zero Hour and Special Mentions, leading to the highest ever number of questions under these categories being taken up during the 250th session. Naidu also promoted the use of mother tongue in the Upper House during 2019. For the first time in the 67-year history of the Rajya Sabha, a member (Sarojini Hembram) spoke in Santhali. During the last 67 years since the inception of Rajya Sabha in 1952, the legislative productivity has been little over one bill per day in only six years – 1976, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2002 and 2003.

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