Dear Shri Venkaiah Naiduji, Shri Om Birlaji, Shri Prahlad Joshiji
You are well aware of the huge loss in working hours that the 16th Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha suffered in the period 2014–2109 owing to the irresponsible and intransigent behavior of some members and political parties.
This is an insult to each and every voter who takes time out from his work of earning his daily bread to elect their representatives for the purpose of framing laws and recommending action to the government to make the country more livable for all citizens.
Further there is a huge financial loss to the exchequer, which is eventually a loss to the common citizen, because of such interruptions when members get paid for doing no work or not being allowed to do any work.
According to the prsindia.org following are the facts and figures that state the loss we as a country incurred in 16th Lok Sabha functioning,
- This (i.e. 16th) Lok Sabha lost 16% of its scheduled time to disruptions, better than the 15th Lok Sabha (37%), but worse than the 14th Lok Sabha (13%).
- Rajya Sabha lost 36% of its scheduled time. In the 15thand 14th Lok Sabhas, it lost 32% and 14% of its scheduled time, respectively.
This Lok Sabha sat for 331 days (against a 468-day average for all previous full-term Lok Sabhas), and lost 16% of its time to disruptions. (Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-the-16th-lok-sabha-fared/article26298209.ece)
This is a shameful 66 days every year out of the 250 working days that are available. True, sometime has to be spent by MPs in their constituencies but look at the proportion – only 26% in Parliament and the rest?
The cost of every minute of Lok Sabha time is huge- Rs. 2.5 Lakhs- clearly every minute is precious to the country and must be utilized only for the purpose for which MPs are elected – making laws, highlighting the common man’s grievances and difficulties and keeping the Government accountable.
(The average monthly expenditure on each MP is around Rs 2,70,000, including salary and all allowances and for running the Parliament, the expenditure is around Rs 2, 50,000 per minute. – Source: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/060418/217-hours-lost-due-to-interruptions-in-lok-sabha.html)
In view of the above, I would like to make some suggestions to your respected selves which will ensure that Parliament functions smoothly, productively and for significantly longer periods than the previous 5 years.
- If any member enters the well of the house and is requested by the Speaker/Presiding Officer to get back to his/her seat but doesn’t obey, he/she will be issued a verbal warning by the Speaker/Presiding Officer.
- If the act is repeated, immediately a second verbal warning will be issued. If, thereafter he/she does not withdraw from the well or repeats the action of entering the well, the member will be immediately expelled for the day and the House Marshalls will escort the member out. In such a case the member will not only lose his Daily Allowance, but one day’s salary too.
- If any member continuously disrupts the proceedings of the House by repeatedly shouting, interrupting or any other act that impedes the functioning of the House, and is requested by the Speaker/Presiding Officer to refrain from doing so, but constitutes with his/her disruptive action, he/she will be issued a verbal warning by the Speaker/Presiding Officer.
- If the act is repeated, immediately a second verbal warning will be issued. If, thereafter he /she does not desist from these disruptive actions, the member will be immediately expelled for the day and the House Marshalls will escort the member out. In such a case the member will not only lose his Daily Allowance, but one day’s salary too.
- If any member has been expelled from the House on 2 occasions and proceeds to disrupt proceedings again, he/she will be suspended for one week from the House and will lose one week’s Daily Allowance plus one week’s salary.
- If after such 1 week’s suspension, the member repeats his/her act of disrupting proceedings, he/she will automatically be suspended for the entire remaining period of the House session and will lose proportionate Daily Allowance as also proportionate salary.
- Every Tuesday, the respective House Secretariate will upload on their websites information about Hours Lost in the previous week and Name the Members or the party whose disruptions forced such loss of working hours. If individuals are difficult to name in some case, their parties will be named. This will let the nation know who is attending Parliament for work and who is doing so for mere fun and daily allowance.
- Every Tuesday, the respective House Secretariate will upload the Attendance Record of all Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the previous week and till date. This is to put pressure on nominated members (who are nominated for their erudition and expertise) to do their duty by the country and not simply enjoy the perks of office.
- Every Tuesday, the respective House Secretariate will upload the Names & Constituencies of all members who attended the House only for one day or not at all in the previous week. This is intended to force members to regularly attend the House.
Coming now to the question of the Government’s responsibilities to enable smooth functioning of Parliament, the following should be ensured.
- All Bills that are required to be sent to Parliamentary Committees must so be sent and the Speaker/Presiding Officer should refuse to let such Bills be tabled in the House unless there is some emergency (National Security, Natural Disaster, War/Riots etc.) or sufficiently cogent reasons are provided by the Government, on the floor of the house, for doing so.
2. Adequate time should be provided for Members to discuss the Budget which should be done in consultation with the Opposition (no matter how small it is) but the Opposition should also be cautioned that if they interrupt House proceedings then the house lost will also be proportionately be reduced form their time for commenting/questioning the Budget.
3. Maximum effort should be made that members of small parties and independents get an opportunity to speak and ask questions. Hence, the Speaker/Presiding Officers of both House should consider a protocol that these members are allowed to speak/question first, rather than members of the larger parties.
When the smaller parties are listed last and time is running short, they became the casualties and never get a chance to place their views before the House. Of course, they must adhere to time allotted by the Speaker/Presiding Officer for doing so.
I do hope you will give due consideration to the above suggestions and take necessary action as you deem fit.
Hemendra K. Varma
June 27, 2019