Trends witnessed in Budget Session ignominious chapter in history of Parliament, Opposition tells Speaker Sumitra Mahajan

Leaders of Opposition parties on Tuesday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, saying the trends that emerged during the Budget Session of Parliament might prove lethal to the country's constitutional democracy if left unchecked.

Press Trust of India July 17, 2018 23:08:29 IST
Trends witnessed in Budget Session ignominious chapter in history of Parliament, Opposition tells Speaker Sumitra Mahajan

New Delhi: Leaders of Opposition parties on Tuesday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, saying the trends that emerged during the Budget Session of Parliament might prove lethal to the country's constitutional democracy if left unchecked.

They also accused the ruling party of denigrating rules and the Constitution which lowered the dignity of Parliament and the Chair and asked the speaker whether she had also written to the leader of the house, who is the prime minister, asking him to put a full stop on such "subversion".

Mahajan had last week written to opposition parties expressing concern over the frequent disruptions in Parliament and asked them to introspect while ensuring that the dignity of Parliament was not undermined.

Trends witnessed in Budget Session ignominious chapter in history of Parliament Opposition tells Speaker Sumitra Mahajan

File photo of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

She had also sought their cooperation, stating that divergence of opinion and dissent should be within the established norms.

They claimed that "utter disregard" was displayed towards the rules and the Constitution during the Budget Session, which saw a virtual washout and expressed concern over the manner in which the no-confidence motion against the government was handled.

"...The Budget Session was witness to another trend which, to say the least, will prove to be lethal to our Constitutional democracy, if not checked," the opposition leaders said.

The letter was signed by various opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha, including those from the Congress, CPM, Samajwadi Party, NCP, IUML, CPI, RJD and some other parties.

The signatories include Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, CPM leader Mohammed Salim, SP leader Dharmendra Yadav, Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia, Tariq Anwar, AAP leader Bhagwant Mann and CPI leader CN Jayadevan.

They also pointed to the manner in which the government got the Union Budget passed, alleging that it was done "without any debate or discussion", pushing inadmissable amendments to the finance bill without the world knowing what was happening.

"The utter disregard to the rules and the Constitution displayed by the ruling dispensation did not add to the glory of the Chair and the House. We have seen how, day after day, for thirteen consecutive days the House of People was not even allowed to decide on the admissibility of the no-confidence motion.

"For all your concern for the image of our Parliament globally, this ignominious chapter in the history of Indian Parliament has no precedent world over," the leaders claimed in the letter.

They claimed that the media had made uncharitable comments about the role of the Chair in this entire episode.

"Any aspersion cast on the Chair reflects poorly on the members of that House as well. And we are not prepared for this kind of reflected glory," they said.

Pointing to the manner in which the no-confidence motion was dealt with, the leaders said as the concept of 'no confidence' flowed from Article 75(3) of the Constitution, it was the reason why the Rule 198 of Lok Sabha rules did not vest any discretionary powers with the speaker as far as admissibility of the motion was concerned.

They said once 50 members stood in favour of the motion sought to be moved, the speaker had to announce that the House had granted leave (permission) for no-confidence motion to be taken up.

"The speaker has no discretion. It is the House which decides admissibility," they said, adding that Rule 378 of Lok Sabha rules gave full powers to the speaker to ensure order in the House.

"Yet, we were all witness to the disastrous manner in which the notices given by parties were dealt with...," they said.

"You rightly called for introspection and advised us not to quote from the past to justify disruptions. The opposition has been very decent and dignified in its conduct which is verifiable from the records of the House," they said.

"Regrettably, it is the ruling party which is denigrating the rules and the Constitution thereby lowering the dignity of the House and the Chair," alleged the Opposition leaders in their letter.

They said given the stature and responsibility of the speaker, "we are confident that you must have already addressed a communication specifically to the Leader of the House as well, asking him to put a full-stop to subversion of the rules and the Constitution".

They said they had not so far not learnt about the existence of such a communication through media, as they did about the speaker's letter to them.

"In the end, we can't help but recall this age-old saying in Sanskrit, 'And the spring is not far, for people to realise who is the real singer and the truth of what is being sung'," the letter said.

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