Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Making the legislature work

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Farm laws

Mains level : Paper 2- Repeal of the laws and its implications

Context

Parliament’s “performance” is assessed at the end of a session, typically in terms of bills discussed and passed. It is equally necessary to take stock of the issues facing the country and set expectations about what Parliament should be doing when the session is to commence.

Analysing the repeal of laws from the standpoint of the parliamentary system and the functioning of Parliament

  • In the current session, three farm Acts will probably be presented for repeal.
  • Not referred to select committee: Three Acts were passed earlier amidst demands to refer them to a select committee.
  • This Lok Sabha — increasingly the Rajya Sabha as well — poses a riddle for the theory of representative democracy.
  • The ruling majority has a handsome majority — a 300 plus representation in the Lok Sabha — and by the standards of the FPTP system, a reasonable vote share of over 37 per cent.
  • Yet, laws passed by Parliament are increasingly being seen as unacceptable.
  • This non-acceptance is, perhaps, restricted to a small section. But the arguments put forward by them remain persuasive.
  • The “majority” government seems less representative than many minority governments of the past.
  • The government may have the majority in numbers, but does not have the capacity to take the majority along.
  • At this juncture, an important responsibility lies with the Opposition.

Suggestions

1] Role of the opposition

  • Coordinate: In Parliament, the Opposition will need to ensure coordination on common issues, strategise on parliamentary procedures and above all, endeavour to represent voices that have been suppressed by the current regime.
  • Avoid disruption: Acrimony might be unavoidable given that the current regime doesn’t give adequate respect to differences of opinion.
  • But it is incumbent on the Opposition to avoid creating pandemonium merely as a tactic.
  • Noise and sloganeering cannot replace the responsibility to represent.
  • Pandemonium is only a cover up for bad coordination and lack of homework.

2] Role of the ruling party MPs

  • Probe the executive: The role of ruling party MPs is not merely to ram through the House whatever the government wishes but to also probe the executive delicately.
  • Assert the role as a representative: In allowing the government to sidestep all opposition, the MPs from the ruling party create an atmosphere wherein they lose any semblance of authenticity in their role as representatives.
  • Independence of ruling party members is connected both to intra-party democracy and to intra-party factionalism.
  • Need for intellectual position: It is also important that they have an intellectual position of their own.
  • The litmus test to their independence will be in how they express themselves in Parliament.
  • In any case, for Parliament to regain its representative character, ruling party members need to be more sincere about the parliamentary system, and unafraid of executive power.

3] Role of civil society

  • Protests have played, and will continue to play, a critical role in forcing us to confront the issue of representation.
  • It must be reiterated that no democracy can exist without a robust civil society.
  • Its tension-ridden relationship with party politics must be recognised.
  • In that sense, the rising antinomy between Parliament and protests is more because of the unrepresentativeness of Parliament than due to the rebellious ways of civil society.

Consider the question “What is the significance of the opposition to the laws enacted by the legislature? Suggest the steps need to be taken by the various participants in democracy.”

Conclusion

All the participants in the democracy need to recognise their role and ensure the the smooth functioning of democracy.

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