The first session of 17th Lok Sabha which concluded on August 6, 2019 has achieved many milestones and will be remembered for many accomplishments. It has showed how Parliament can be productive in discharging its duty. Before we deliberate upon many counts which remained unique in this session, here are the main accomplishments at the outset.
- Lok Sabha passed 36 bills in this session which is highest since 1952 session
- Rate of productivity of Lok Sabha stood at 125%
- Among 265 first time MPs in Lok Sabha, 229 have got opportunity to speak
- Among 46 first time female MPs, 42 have spoken
- A total of 37 sittings, 280 hours of works in Lok Sabha, which is 35% more than the scheduled hours
- 36% of questions were answered orally in Lok Sabha which is also the highest in the last 20 years.
- Many important bills such as J&K Reorganization Bill, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill were passed
The infographic below gives you an idea of how this session will be remembered for long.
Parliament Means Business
All these developments have signaled a new work culture in Parliament. It reflected in both the Houses. Despite the opposition, the first session of 17th Lok Sabha has seen the important bills getting passed. Rajya Sabha in which the ruling party has no required strength of members on its own to pass the important legislatures was arguably used by the opposition in the past to send the bills to the cold storage. We have explained earlier, how in the earlier Lok Sabha, the opposition had consistently created a logjam. But this time around, the government has evidently brought in a new work-culture in the Parliament in which certain seamlessness in the process.
None of the bills introduced in this session were referred to a committee. According to PRS research, 25 bills (66%) were discussed within five working days from their introduction. Three bills were introduced, discussed, and passed on the same day in Rajya Sabha.
Apart from the official numbers, there are private research groups who study the legislative process. Those studies also say that this was the most productive session of the Parliament.
According to the data by a research think tank PRS, the productivity of Lok Sabha in the first session of 17th Lok Sabha is 135% which is a development took place after 20 years according to an analysis in The Times of India. When it comes to Rajya Sabha, productivity is 103%. If you compare with the 2018 monsoon session, the productivity of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was at 110% and 68% respectively.
Quoting PRS Legislative Research, Live Mint reported that the maximum number of bills passed in a session during the 2014-19 NDA government stood at 12.
PRS arrives upon the percentage after considering the conduct of the House in various aspects such as questions, legislative and non-legislative business.
Long Work Hours and Session Extension
The monsoon session of the Parliament this year was scheduled to be concluded on July 26. Since there were important bills to be cleared, the government extended the session till August 7.
While doing so, it preempted the possible reservation from the opposition by stating that “the opposition parties should not have any objection as they have been in favour of Parliament working for at least 100 days in a year.” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had given the rationale for such a move. He said, 80 percent of the Bills being taken up were those which had lapsed with the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha as these could not be passed in Rajya Sabha. He said the Bills could not be passed for nearly one-and-a-half years and were being taken up now.
There were many discussions in which the Members of Parliament took part beyond evening hours. Notably, Parliament discussed the demands for the grants of Railways till midnight!
Nevertheless, Congress objected to work in extended hours but the government insisted saying that the important bills will otherwise be lapsed.
Bills Passed Overcoming the Roadblock
Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019: Congress and the many other members of the opposition were busy delaying the bill that bans instant triple talaq. But on July 30, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 passed in Rajya Sabha taking the cooperation of parties like BJD.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Amendment Bill: Similarly, amendment to UAPA bill which was opposed by Congress, TMC and Owaisi’s AIMIM, also cleared in both the Houses of the parliament. The amendment has given more power to National Investigating agency and made a provision to designate individual as a terrorist. You may read more about this in our article UAPA Bill 2019: It Hits Where It Hurts.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill: This bill intends to bring an overhaul in the behavioural pattern of Indians on roads, making the roads safer place. It proposes huge increases in various penalties for traffic violations, protection of those who help the accident victims by giving them immunity from legal complications, recall of defective vehicle parts by auto companies, holding builders accountable for poor quality of infrastructure and making vehicle owners criminally liable for violations committed by juvenile drivers. This quick video will give you all the information regarding the bill.
These are few among many important bills explained here. We have written extensively about the historic decision of revoking Article 370 and the subsequent act of reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Parliament also passed Code on wages Bill 2019, which is the first major step in labour reforms.
National Medical Commission Bill 2019 which was introduced during the session aims to restructure the medical education. We have explained about it in our article National Medical Commission to Treat the Malaise of Medical Council of India
The New Work Culture
When the Parliament used to get stalled for one or the other reason earlier, there used to be a feeling among people that the MPs are getting their salaries and perks without performance. But the productivity of the present session of parliament is signaling a new work culture among the representatives of the people. Since it saw a quality discussion from many young MPs across the parties, expectations from the law-makers has only increased which is a good sign for democracy.