Winter Session productivity report card is abysmal: Parliament only sat for third of total scheduled time

Surprising none, Parliament recorded a abysmal productivity in the recently concluded Winter Session as multiple rounds of disruptions kept both Houses from functioning. However, Parliament passed The Muslim Women Bill (Protection of Rights on Marriage) 2018, or Triple Talaq Bill, in the Lok Sabha.

Starting from Rafale deal, Sabarimala, a very heated debate over the triple talaq, several other disruptions over political statements and the results of the five state Assembly election, Parliament witnessed constant and spirited debates but in the process the listed business in both the Houses never went on as planned.

The Winter Session of Parliament which commenced on 11 December, 2018 ended on 9 January, 2019. The session had 20 scheduled sittings, of which 17 were held.

Further, Rajya Sabha met for an additional day at the end of the session. In Lok Sabha, 49 MPs were suspended by the Speaker for five sittings for wilfully disturbing the House. This is the penultimate session of the 16th Lok Sabha, with the interim budget to be presented in the next session ahead of the upcoming General Elections.

Plan versus Performance

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

The Lok Sabha adjourned sine die on 8 January, 2019 as scheduled and the sitting of Rajya Sabha got extended by one day. It was adjourned sine die on 9 January, 2019. Three sittings were cancelled for Christmas and New Year.

Both Houses discussed and adopted the statutory resolution to impose President's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Issues related to Rafale deal and the supplementary demands for grants were also discussed in Lok Sabha. Both Houses adjourned their proceedings several times due to continuous disruptions on the issues related to Rafale deal and the proposed dam on Cauvery river. The Speaker of Lok Sabha suspended 49 members for creating disruptions.

Parliament sat for about a third of its scheduled time this session

Sixteen legislative bills were introduced during the session and four were passed other than an Appropriation Bill. Four Bills were withdrawn. Lok Sabha worked for 46 percent of the scheduled hours and Rajya Sabha for 26 percent.

Due to interruptions, Lok Sabha adjourned earlier than its scheduled time on 14 out of 17 days, and Rajya Sabha on 16 out of 18 days, PRS Legislative Research reported.

Members of Parliament lost time over disruptions and protests demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the Rafale deal and construction of a dam on the Cauvery river.

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Source: PRS Legislative Research

So far in this Winter Session, Lok Sabha lost a sixth of its time to disruptions, while Rajya Sabha lost a third of its scheduled time. Over the last three Lok Sabhas, the average productivity of the Lower House has recovered after seeing a dip, PRS reported. However, the productivity of Rajya Sabha has continued to decline.

The Winter Session witnessed the lowest number of non-legislaive discussions in the 16th Lok Sabha. Two general discussions were held, one on issues relating to the Rafale deal, and second on imposition of President's Rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

This Lok Sabha spent more of its productive time on legislative business compared to the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha. Over the same time period, time spent on legislation in Rajya Sabha has remained consistent, PRS reported. In this session, Lok Sabha spent 52 percent and Rajya Sabha spent 44 percent of their productive time on legislative business. Historically, however, lesser productive sessions have seen lower time spent on legislation.

At the start of the Winter Session, 23 bills were listed for consideration and passage and two for withdrawal. An additional 20 bills were listed for introduction, consideration, and passage. Altogether, 16 bills were introduced and four bills were passed by both Houses. The Bills passed by one House include — the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Surrogacy Bill, 2017, and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.

According to PRS Legislative, in the current Lok Sabha 62 percent of the bills have been discussed for more than two hours. This is an improvement from the previous 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas, where 30 percent and 44 percent bills were discussed for more than two hours. Time spent discussing a Bill in Rajya Sabha has remained consistent, with about 25-35 percent bills discussed for over two hours.

One of the least productive Question Hours

This Winter Session witnessed one of the least productive Question Hours of the 16th Lok Sabha. Due to disruptions, Question Hour in Parliament functioned for its entire duration on only two days. In Lok Sabha, a total of 30 questions were answered orally, against the 400 listed questions. In Rajya Sabha, no questions were answered orally on 13 out of the total 17 scheduled Question Hours. Towards the end of the session, on two days, all 15 listed questions were answered orally in Rajya Sabha.

Visit PRS Legislative Research for more analysis on Parliament functioning

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Updated Date: Jan 10, 2019 18:23:30 IST

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