'Over half of parliament's time lost in 2013'

New Delhi, Dec 27 : More than half of parliament's time in 2013 was wasted, says an analysis of the three sessions during the year by think tank PRS Legislative Research.

In 2013, parliament met for 63 days and was productive for 44 percent of the scheduled time, while 56 percent of the time was wasted.

"The monsoon session of parliament was extended for a week, something that has not happened in the last four years. The year 2013 also saw the shortest winter session of 10 days," the analysis said.

Altogether 15 bills were passed, including the landmark Lokpal bill.

Key among other bills passed are the amendment in criminal laws to make provisions on rape more stringent, the food security bill, the land acquisition bill, the prohibition of sexual harassment at the workplace bill, the companies bill, and the pension bill.

The disruptions which ate into parliament's time included issues such as coal block allocations, the draft report of the joint parliamentary committee on 2G spectrum, Telangana, border security issues with Pakistan and China, and the economic situation of the country.

Both budget and winter sessions were curtailed, and parliament was adjourned two days ahead of planned schedule.

Question Hour continued to be a major casualty to disruptions in 2013.

"In the Lok Sabha, only 56 of 1,100 starred questions were answered orally in the floor of the house. In Rajya Sabha, only 77 out of 1,100 starred questions were answered orally," the analysis said.

"In the budget session, the Finance Bill was passed without discussion, and all demands for grants were guillotined".

There were 12 MPs who were suspended by the Speaker in Lok Sabha in the monsoon session for "grave disorder". Of these, nine were suspended again.

On both occasions, the MPs were suspended for five sittings. The monsoon session also saw the names of MPs of Rajya Sabha listed in a House Bulletin for "gross disorderly conduct".

"The report of the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on matters relating to allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum was tabled in the winter session," the think tank noted.

"Only four other joint parliamentary committees have been constituted in India's history. These looked into the Bofors issue (1987), the two stock market scams of 1992 and 2001, and the issue of pesticides in soft drinks (2003)," the report said.

The analysis also recounts that Lok Sabha MP Lalu Prasad and Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood lost their seats after being convicted on criminal charges. It was the first time a legislator was expelled for criminal charges, following a Supreme Court order.

The year 2013 also saw three separate notices for no-confidence motions during the winter session, but these could not be admitted because of disruptions and adjournments.

--IANS (Posted on 27-12-2013)

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