New Delhi: The Upper House of Parliament changed the rules on Question Hour to avoid the kind of embarrassment faced by the Lok Sabha where the segment had to be cancelled because members who had listed queries were absent.
The Rajya Sabha adopted rules to ensure that the government replies to questions and supplementary queries by other members even if the members of Parliament who have posed them are not present. The amended rule reads: “If on a question being called it is not put or the member in whose name it stands is absent, the chairman shall direct that the answer be given.”
The amendment, as suggested by the 12th report of the committee on rules, was adopted by Rajya Sabha after D. Raja (Communist Party of India) moved the motion that was passed by a voice vote.
The committee deleted another rule which stipulated that the questions of absent members be taken up only in the second round, if time permits, even if such a member has authorized another member to ask the question on his behalf.
Many questions in the Rajya Sabha could not be taken up due to members not being present, forcing House chairman Hamid Ansari to comment that absenteeism was a “virus”.
“Changes like this cannot be a solution. Political parties should take the onus of managing their members and make sure that the government is forced to answer people’s queries,” said political analyst Bhaskar Rao. “The present step can ensure filling in the Question Hour but cannot much help democracy.”
(‘PTI’ contributed to this story.)