Rajya Sabha: Last Five Years
248th Session of the Upper House of Parliament came to an end on Wednesday. However during the 10 sittings of this session the productivity of Rajya Sabha was only 4.79 % with 39 hours and 51 minutes lost out of total 48 hours. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu once again expressed his anguish on this issue and in his valedictory address gave a summary of the work done by Rajya Sabha in 18 sessions since June 2014. During the 328 sittings of the upper house in this period only 154 bills were passed. In terms of the time available and the time utilized for taking up legislative business and the issues of public concern, the average productivity of the upper house was 60 % during this period with 8 sessions out of 18 clocking less than the average. On the brighter side, despite the disruptions and adjournments several important bills were also passed in the upper house during this period.
Highlights of the Vice President’s speech on functioning of Rajya Sabha
- The chairman of RS has expressed anguish that the politics of the day has eclipsed the functioning of the house
- Question Hour is primarily meant to ensure the accountability of the executive of the day. Calling Attention Notices and Short Duration Discussions besides the Zero Hour and the provision for making ‘Special Mentions’ are meant for raising issues of public importance and concern. But the members had shown scant regard for them.
- Of the total 18 sessions over the last five years, the productivity of the House has been below the five year average of 60% in respect of 8(Eight) sessions.
- In terms of bills passed, it ranged from just one Bill in case of the Winter session of 2016 and the Budget session of 2018, two bills passed during the Monsoon session of 2015 to a maximum of 14 bills each passed during the monsoon sessions of 2016 and 2018.
- While the sittings of the House per year during the last five years has been as per the trend of 60-70 days, the declining productivity and legislative output is a matter of deep concern.
Bills passed by RS during the 5 years
- The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill,2019 providing 10% reservation for economically weaker sections
- The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 for introduction of GST and nine other related Bills
- The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bills, 2015 and 2018
- The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to prevent sexual abuse of children
- The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018
- The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018
- The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Bill, 2015
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the related Amendment Bill, 201
- The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 for setting up a National Commission for Backward Class
- The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016 to protect the interest of buyers and enhance the confidence in and credibility of the important real estate sector
- The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill,2015 and 2016 besides The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill,2015 for auctioning of mines
- The Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016
- The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016
- The Commercial Courts, Commercial Divisions and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015
- The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016
Unique moments in RS
- RS hasn’t never been in focus. However, in the last five years it has come under limelight.
- When the opposition wanted to discuss issues of national importance, RS was the place as LS was not in session.
- It was after a very long time where we saw an amendment to motion of president’s address passed in RS.
- When LS passed bills, RS objected stating that the convened bill was not referred to committee. Thus, it ensured checks and balances were in place.
- A greater consensus needs to be built to ensure smooth functioning of the house
- In the name of offering checks and balance, we shall not obstruct the functioning of the house
- RS should focus more on the issues concerning states since it also called as ‘council of states’
- There must be a relook at the rules to ensure greater productivity of the house.