- Discuss about how parliament uses question hour to hold accountable.
The Constitution provides for the legislature to make laws. The government is collectively responsible to Parliament for its actions. This implies that Parliament (i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) can hold the government accountable for its decisions, and scrutinise its functioning. This may be done using various methods including, during debates on Bills or issues on the floor of Parliament, by posing questions to ministers during Question Hour, and in parliamentary committees.
One of the forums of holding the government accountable for its actions is the Question Hour. During Question Hour, MPs may pose questions to ministers related to the implementation of laws and policies.
For e.g., in the 16th Lok Sabha, question hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%. A lower rate of functioning reflects time lost due to disruptions. Consequently, this time lost indicates a lost opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions.
Further, there is no mechanism currently for answering questions which require inter-ministerial expertise or relate to broader government policy. Since the Prime Minister does not answer questions other than the ones pertaining to his ministries, such questions may either not get adequately addressed or remain unanswered. In countries such as the UK, the Prime Minister’s Question Time is conducted on a weekly basis. During the 30 minutes the Prime Minister answers questions posed by various MPs. These questions relate to broader government policies, engagements, and issues affecting the country.
MPs may raise issues of public importance in Parliament, and examine the government’s response to problems being faced by citizens through: (i) a debate, which entails a reply by the concerned minister, or (ii) a motion which entails a vote. Alternatively, MPs may move a motion for: (i) discussing important issues (such as inflation, drought, and corruption), (ii) adjournment of business in a House in order to express displeasure over a government policy, or (iii) expressing no confidence in the government leading to its resignation.