Why in news?
The Upper House spends only 24% of its time in deliberating and passing laws, an analysis by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has revealed.
Most of its functional time is spent on deliberating issues of public importance.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu had directed the Secretariat to carry out this analysis to blunt the Opposition criticism that the Council of the States spends far too much time in government business (legislating) instead of debating the issues raised by them.
What does the Analysis show?
- 40.20% of time is spent in deliberating issues of national importance followed by 32.22% in asking questions and holding the government accountable.
- Only 24.05% of its functional time is spent on making laws.
- And an additional 3.52% is spent on Private members Bills, which are stand-alone legislation drafted by individual members. These have rarely translated into laws though.
- The time spent on the Government Bills ranged from 10.87% of the time in 2015 to 40.09% in 2002.
- It has touched a record high of 45.90% during the historic 250th session last year – 2019.
- A record 15 Bills were passed in 2019 with the House spending 49.08 hours of the session time of 107.05 hours.
How has things changed?
- Another interesting outcome of the analysis is how the functioning of the Rajya Sabha has severely deteriorated post 2010.
- During 1978-2018, the actual functional time excluding disruptions ranged from 139 to 580 hours per year.
- All instances of working for above 500 hours per year were during 1978-1988 with an evident slide afterwards.
- Since 1995, there had been only six instances of the House functioning for more than 300 hours per year during the 23 years.
- Since 2010, it has been below 300 hours per year.
Calling Attention in Rajya Sabha
- The concept of ‘Calling Attention’ is of Indian origin. It is an innovation in the modern parliamentary procedure and combines the asking of a question for answer with supplementaries and short comments in which different points of view are expressed concisely and precisely, and the Government has adequate opportunity to state its case.
- It gives members an opportunity to bring to the surface the failure or inadequate action of Government on a matter of urgent public importance.
- This procedural device is analogous to an adjournment motion without its censure aspect.
- A member who intends to call the attention of a Minister to a matter of urgent public importance has to give notice thereof in writing in the prescribed form available in the Notice Office.
- All notices received from members up to 10.30 a.m. are placed before the Chairman every day for his consideration by the Secretary-General. The Chairman decides the admissibility of the Calling Attention notice.