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New Delhi: Voting on bills must be preceded by open discussion and debate on the floor of the House, rather than just committees, outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee said in his farewell speech to Parliament on Sunday, outlining an area of concern for the head of state.

Mukherjee, whose term comes to an end on Monday, expressed concern over declining productivity in the House.

“It is unfortunate that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining. With the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion. Scrutiny in committees is no substitute to open discussion on the floor of the House. When the Parliament fails to discharge its lawmaking role or enacts laws without discussion, I feel it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people of this great country," Mukherjee said in his address in the central hall of Parliament.

He said that the ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and that there should be no recourse to ordinances on monetary matters.

Mukherjee said that his principal responsibility in these five years has been to function as the guardian of the Constitution.

“As I had said on oath, I strived to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, not just in word but also in spirit. In this task, I greatly benefitted from the advice and co-operation extended by Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi at every step," he said.

Mukherjee who has been a member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for 37 years said that he is a creation of Parliament.

“I understood the real value of debate, discussion and dissent. I realized how disruption hurts the opposition more than the government as it denies them the opportunity to raise the concerns of the people. I experienced the joy of the enactment of pro-poor and pro-farmer legislation," said Mukherjee, who was a member of the Rajya Sabha for five terms and Lok Sabha for two terms before becoming President in 2012.

Commenting on the passage and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, Mukherjee said, “The recent passage of Goods and Services Tax and its launch on 1st July is a shining example of co-operative federalism and speaks volumes for the maturity of Indian Parliament."

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