UPA govt flayed for breaking precedent, extending session

UPA govt flayed for breaking precedent, extending session

New Delhi: The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has come under fire for extending the current session of Parliament because this removes the threat of a so-called trust vote.

The current session of Parliament began on 21 July when the government convened it to prove its majority in the Lok Sabha. The UPA has since extended this session twice, the latest through an adjournment on 24 October. The same session will restart on 10 December. The move would appear to be driven by the notion that two trust votes cannot be held in one session, said Subhash Kashyap, an expert on the Indian Constitution and a former secretary general of the Lok Sabha.

Also See: Fewer Sittings (Graphic)

“Extending the session twice is not illegal or unconstitutional. But it is politically immoral and against established practices, precedences and conventions," Kashyap added.

Another expert on the Indian Constitution, Rajiv Dhawan, said that while the declining number of Parliament sessions was becoming an area of concern, of bigger concern was the quality of these sessions. “We are not only worried about the number of sittings, but also about the content of the sittings," Dhawan said. “The content leaves a lot to be desired. The level of debates in the Houses have become abysmal."

While the 13th Lok Sabha — during which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance was in power — sat only for 356 days, the present Lok Sabha has had 311 sittings thus far and has only six months left in its five-year term.

Parliament sat just for 66 days in 2007 compared with 137 in 1953 and 151 in 1956. There have been fewer sittings of Parliament in each of the past three years despite a decision taken at the 13th Whips Conference in 2005 to have 100 days of minimum sittings a year.

Former law minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan also pointed out that Parliament has lost considerable time due to disruptions.

Justifying the government’s move, parliamentary affairs minister Vayalar Ravi said the government was willing to continue the session as scheduled till 21 November. “It was the Opposition’s demand to cut short the session in view of the festivals and the November-December state assembly elections."