Source: The post is based on the article “The new Parliament House: More than a building” published in The Indian Express on 1st June 2023.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
Relevance: Deteriorating role of the Parliament
News: The article explains the deteriorating role of Parliament and its increasing irrelevance.
How has the function of the Parliament deteriorated?
Reduction in the Number of Sittings: As per the PRS data, there has been a reduction in the average of annual sitting days of the Parliament.
For instance, the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019) had a scheduled sitting of just 337 days over a five-year period and lost 16 percent of that time due to adjournments.
Lack of Debates and Discussion: Mostly the proceedings in the Parliament have been stalled due to the ruckus created by the opposition. There is hardly any discussions or debate done on any important bill or a current issue of national importance.
Therefore, it is the duty of the Speaker to permit the Opposition to raise and discuss matters of national importance, even if they are not liked by the ruling majority.
Increasing Role of Executives: Instead of drafting and debating bills in the Parliament by the legislatures, the nation is now governed more by rules, notifications, circulars and guidelines, drafted by the executives.
Misuse of the Majority: The ruling party has misused its majority and downgraded the role of Parliament.
Article 110 requires that money bills must contain only provisions that relate to fiscal and tax issues. A money bill needs approval only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha has a limited, recommendatory role.
However, since the ruling party has the majority in the Lok Sabha, they label any bill as a money bill and get it approved in the Lok Sabha.
For instance, in the Aadhaar Act, amendments to several tribunals through the Finance Act, 2017 were certified as money bills and enacted without the approval of the Rajya Sabha.
Degrading Role of Parliamentary Committees: The practice of referring bills to parliamentary committees has dropped sharply in the recent past — from a high of 60 percent to just 23 percent in the current Lok Sabha.
Finance Bills: Finance Bills these days are introduced on the Budget Day itself, which is an unhealthy practice. These bills are then passed without any debate or discussions.
For instance, in 2023, an entire chapter relating to GST tribunals was added and approved on the last date without any debate or discussion. Many of these provisions are violative of decisions of the Supreme Court.
Other Issues: The mandatory requirement under Article 93 of having a Deputy Speaker has not been fulfilled in the present Lok Sabha while the entry of journalists into Parliament has also been curtailed.
What can be the course of action?
Every member of the Parliament takes an oath under the Third Schedule of the Constitution, which requires them to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
Therefore, the greatness of Parliament is determined by the manner in which their occupants discharge their constitutional obligations.
Further, the constitutional role of our Parliament is to deliberate and enact laws that shape India. Therefore, the new Parliament will not serve the purpose unless the functioning of the Parliament is improved.