Unfortunately the Upper House of Parliament is acquiring a typical characteristic of a House of disorder and pandemonium on ‘point of order’ the motive of some Members is to create disorder. There is absence of serious debate and discussion in the House. Obviously most disappointed and disheartened man appears to be the Chairman of Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu who is also Vice President of India. His anguish is visible in his address to the House on June 21. I was present in the House that day and I attentively listened to his speech. In every word that he uttered showed his pain.
“Honourable Members you are representatives of the people and you have been sent to Parliament by the people with trust and hope. You must bear in mind that when you enter this great Parliament crores of eyes watch you. After Lok Sabha elections of 2019 you have got one more opportunity to discuss and debate burning issues of the day as per expectations of the people. Find solution, resolve issues and make laws that improve life of the people.
I am greatly pained that people are forming a negative opinion of the House because of frequent obstructions and pandemonium which is dangerous for democracy. One hour of Question Hour means 45 Members getting response from the Government on important subjects. One hour of Zero Hour if wasted means 15 Members are deprived of raising issues of public interest in the House. We have to seriously think what we want after all, a House that works for the people or a House of chaos and disorder. People have started thinking if this is the state of affairs in the Upper House then there is a danger to our democracy.
Chairman further said that many bills are passed by the Lok Sabha but without any reason the bills get stuck in Rajya Sabha and kept pending for years. Bills that are not passed by Lok Sabha get elapsed after five years. The bill is again tabled in the Lok Sabha for its clearance. Once the Bill is passed in Lok Sabha the bill is sent to Rajya Sabha. This is the practice. But many Bills are pending in Rajya Sabha for decades. As per provision of Article 107 of the Constitution, when a Bill is passed by Lok Sabha but the same Bill is not passed by Rajya Sabha after five years the Bill elapses and Lok Sabha has to take up the Bill again for its passage. Rajya Sabha could not pass 22 Bills that were passed by 16th Lok Sabha in five years. The bills would go back to Lok Sabha. Even when Lok Sabha reconsider the Bills and pass them it will take at least 2 to 3 years causing wastage of public money in crores. Should not we think seriously on this matter? Bills that elapsed include Land Acquisition Bill 2015, Factory Amendment Bill 2016, Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2017, Consumer Protection Bill 2018, Company Law Amendment Bill 2019, Bill to stop irregular saving schemes, Bill on Adhaar and related matters, Triple Talaq Bill 2017 and 2018, Child trafficking and Rehabilitation Bill 2018 and Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019. But this is not the complete list of pending Bills in Rajya Sabha. Honourable Chairman also informed the House that at the end of 248th session of Rajya Sabha as many as 55 Bills were pending out of which 22 Bill elapsed. There are 3 Bills pending for the last 20 years. Six Bills are pending for the last 10 to 20 years and 14 Bills are pending for the last 5 to 10 years. Out of 33 Bills pending only 10 Bills are pending for less than five years.
Honourable Chairman asked the Members if they are aware of the fact that important Bill like Indian Medical Council Amendment Bill 1987 is pending in the House for the past 32 years. Can it be taken as a comfortable situation? Similarly, 79th Constitution Amendment Bill 992, Municipal Area Amendment Bill 2001, Farmers related Seeds Bill 2004, Pesticide Amendment Bill 2011, Mining Amendment Bill 2011, Amendment Bill related to migrant labourers from one state to another 2011, Misbehavior with Women Amendment Bill 2012, Amendment Bill related to workers in building and other construction work 2013 and Illegal possession of Waqf Property Amendment Bill 2014 are still pending. Honourable Chairman said that “we can’t escape from our responsibility” that there is also contribution from our side for creating this situation. We have to consider seriously that a constructive debate and consensus is the only solution to this problem. We should look for consensus rather than differences on issues.
Today 65 percent of our population consists of boys and girls who are less than 35 years of age. Considering the age group of our people we have to work for their progress then only we can have the prestige and status of Rajya Sabha maintained.
Questions are being raised on Legislature and Institutions related to it from all quarters. Many Members who come prepared for discussion on subjects but are deprived of the opportunity due to disorder must be sharing the anguish of the Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. I am one of the sad Member of the House. I have also gone through depression in the past five years. The House is adjourned frequently on trivial matters. How any work will be done when the House does not function? As a matter of fact those Members who disrupt the proceedings of the House have green signal from their leaders to ensure that the House does not function. They keep shouting and enter the Well of the House forcing adjournment. Their only objective is to oppose Government’s positive policy. It is seen often that the leader of the Members who create ruckus is seated in the House and smiles while his Members keep sloganeering. The leaders say that they want the House to function. Just look at their double speak. After adjournment of the House some Members join me over cup of tea in the Central Hall of Parliament. They admit that they have to create obstruction in the House because the ‘high command’ wants that.
The situation has come to this point that general public has started thinking that Parliament does not function as per the provision of the Constitution. Members indulge in noise and sloganeering. It has raised question over credibility of Parliament. There is gradual erosion of faith in Parliament. People now directly watch in Tv what happens in Parliament. Yet the great Members refuse to mend their ways and conduct in the House.
Sri Naidu has rightly sounded a note of warning to the Members in this regard. Erosion of faith in democracy is dangerous. You will remember that during the past few sessions of Rajya Sabha there were uproar and pandemonium over Rafale deal, Farmers issue, Special Status for Andhra Pradesh and some other trivial subjects. Rajya Sabha was not allowed to function.
In Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress raised the Rafale issue and charged the government of misleading the Supreme Court and Parliament. Azad said in the House that they are ready for discussion on many subjects and that they have also given notice of privilege motion against the government. Azad had raised the Rafale issue with great force. But after the result of Lok Sabha election the Congress Member is silent on Rafale.
Honourable Chairman Venkaiah Naidu has always tried to appeal to the Members to maintain order in the house during the ruckus with sound reasoning. But the agitating Members refused to listen to the Chair. Surprisingly even when obituary references were being made for the departed Members there were instances of interruptions but after repeated appeal of the Chair the House paid tribute to the Members who died during the intervening sessions.
Naidu said that our Parliament has to perform a great role in making of new India by 2022 so that we all can take pride in it. We have to see how far the Members listen and fall in line to let Parliament function smoothly.
Arun Jaitley had also said one thing during one of the previous sessions of the House that can Rajya Sabha stop a Bill passed by Lok Sabha. But somehow this was not debated properly. The Chairman also says what Jaitley had said. Democracy means debate, discussion and resolution of issues. Prestige of the Upper House will be restored only by allowing the House to function which can be achieved by joint efforts of all the Members of the House.
The writer is a Member of Rajya Sabha