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Let them speak

  • Published
    20th Dec, 2023

Context:

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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