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Let them speak

  • Published
    20th Dec, 2023


Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha suspended 141 Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) for disrupting its proceedings in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.

The Root of Parliamentary Dysfunction

  • Absence of Procedural Mechanisms: Parliamentary dysfunction stems from the lack of procedural mechanisms for addressing contentious issues, leading to unprecedented suspensions in the winter session.
  • Security Breach Standoff: Opposition demands Home Minister's statement on security breach; government cites sensitivity and defers to Speaker's directions. High-level committee investigates; some suggestions implemented.
  • Historical Context of Disruptions: Decades of procedural stagnation in parliamentary systems lead to a familiar story: Opposition seeks debate, government hesitates, resulting in disruptions and disciplinary actions.

Evolution of Parliamentary Disruptions

  • Origins in the 1960s: Disruptions by individual MPs in the 1960s marked the start of regular disruptions. MPs like Ram Sewak Yadav and Mani Ram Bagri faced suspensions for highlighting issues.
  • Transition into Political Tool: Parliamentary disruptions evolve into a political tool. Presiding officers recognize deliberate acts to stall proceedings, shifting from spontaneous disruptions to strategic political actions.
  • Simplistic Institutional Response: Parliamentary disruptions viewed as a disciplinary issue, addressed by penalizing MPs. The simplistic response fails to adapt to the evolving nature of disruptions in parliamentary discourse.

Rethinking Parliamentary Procedures

  • Flawed View of Parliament: Constitutional framers designed Parliament for government business, giving it agenda-setting power. This flawed perspective limits the collaborative nature of legislatures and obstructs effective Opposition participation.
  • Collaborative Role of Legislatures: Legislatures should be collaborative spaces where the government and Opposition work together for the country's betterment. Opposition's role is to oppose, suggest alternatives, and respect the will of the people.
  • Addressing Disruptions Effectively: Current penalization approach proves unworkable. A shift in procedures is essential, allowing the Opposition to set the agenda for debate and fostering a collaborative and effective parliamentary system.
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