Parliament functioning in first session of 17th Lok Sabha

The Budget Session of Parliament was held from June 17, 2019 to August 7, 2019.  This was the first session of Parliament after the elections for 17th Lok Sabha.  In the recent past, Parliament used to have a short session for oath-taking after the election of new Lok Sabha.  This session used to be followed by a Budget Session.

In 17th Lok Sabha, the Oath-taking Session has been combined with the Budget Session.  Initially, the session was planned to be held from June 17, 2019 to July 26, 2019.  It was extended until August 7, 2019.  During the Budget Session, Lok Sabha had sittings for 37 days and Rajya Sabha had sittings for 35 days.

The highest number of working hours in Lok Sabha in the last 20 years

  • Usually, a Parliament sitting is scheduled for six hours except for a few occasions, such as the President’s address and election of the Speaker.  However, Parliament can extend its usual working hours to complete its business.
     
  • During this session, Lok Sabha worked for 281 hours which is 135% of the scheduled hours.  This is higher than any other session of Parliament in the past 20 years.  On an average, Lok Sabha has worked for 81% of its scheduled time in the past 20 years.
     
  • Rajya Sabha worked for 195 hours which is 100% of the scheduled hours.  On an average, Rajya Sabha has worked for 76% of its scheduled time during a session in the past 20 years.

36% of the questions were answered orally in Lok Sabha; the highest in the last 20 years

  • Question Hour functioned for 95% of its scheduled time in Lok Sabha and, 65% in Rajya Sabha during this session.
     
  • During this session, 36% of the questions were answered orally in Lok Sabha by ministers.  This is higher than any other session in the past 20 years.  40% of the questions received an oral answer from a minister in Rajya Sabha.  This is the second-highest among all sessions in the past 20 years.
     
  • On an average, 15% of the questions in Lok Sabha and 17% of the questions in Rajya Sabha have received oral answers during a session in the past 20 years.

Lok Sabha spent 46% of its time on legislative business; Rajya Sabha spent 51%

  • All expenditure of the government can only be made with the prior sanction of Parliament.  An important agenda of the Budget Session is to discuss and pass the annual budget.
     
  • Lok Sabha spent 20% of its time on financial business. 
     
  • Rajya Sabha spent 29% of its time on the non-legislative business including the motion of thanks to the President’s address, discussion on working of ministries, calling attention motion, among others.
     
  • Lok Sabha spent 46% of its time on legislative business.  The corresponding figure for Rajya Sabha is 51%.

28 Bills were introduced and passed in the same session; no new Bill referred to committees

  • 38 Bills were introduced in Parliament during the Budget Session (excluding the Finance and Appropriation Bills).  28 Bills out of these were passed during this session.  This is the highest for any session in the last 10 years.  The second-highest was during the Winter Session 2009 and the Monsoon Session 2018,  when 10 Bills were introduced and passed during the same session.
     
  • At the commencement of the Budget Session, 33 Bills were pending in Rajya Sabha.  None of these Bills were discussed during this session. 
     
  • For a Bill to become an Act, it has to pass through various stages which include circulation, introduction, second reading, clause-by-clause discussion, and final vote.  A Bill may also be referred to a Standing or Select Committee for scrutiny after introduction.  None of the Bills introduced in this session were referred to a Committee.  Out of 28 Bills passed by Parliament, five Bills had been scrutinised by Committees in some form during the period of previous Lok Sabha.
     
  • During the Budget Session, 25 Bills (66%) were discussed within five working days from their introduction.  Two Bills in Rajya Sabha and one Bill in Lok Sabha were introduced, discussed, and passed on the same day.  On an average, a Bill was discussed for 3.6 hours in Lok Sabha and 3.3 hours in Rajya Sabha.
     
  • The central government tabled a Presidential Order that superseded the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, 1954 in Rajya Sabha.  A resolution was passed which modifies Article 370 to state that all provisions of the Constitution of India will apply to Jammu and Kashmir.  This was followed by the introduction and passage of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 which reorganises the state into two union territories.

Seven Bills in Lok Sabha and Seven Bills in Rajya Sabha had recorded vote at some stage

  • Bills and motions are usually passed through voice vote.  Only if an MP demands a ‘division’, the vote of each MP is recorded and reported.
     
  • For Constitutional Amendment Bills, the division is mandatory in order to ascertain the special majority.
     
  • During this session, Lok Sabha passed 33 Bills (excluding Finance and Appropriation Bills), out of which, in seven cases, division was recorded (21%) at some point during the discussion.  This is higher than 16th Lok Sabha, in which, the division was called for 8% of the Bills.
     
  • On an average, 315 MPs participated in a division in Lok Sabha which means that 58% MPs were present in the house for the vote.  The corresponding figure for Rajya Sabha was 168 MPs (73%).

20% of the demands were discussed; the rest of the Budget was guillotined

  • In the Budget Session, demand for grants of the ministries of (i) road transport and highways, (ii) agriculture and farmers’ welfare, (iii) rural development, (iv) youth affairs and sports, and (v) railways were listed for discussion in Lok Sabha.  All these demands were taken up for discussion by Lok Sabha.
     
  • These demands form 20% of the voted demand for grants (excluding railways).  On an average, 13% of the voted demand for grants have been discussed by Lok Sabha since 2004-05 (excluding railways).
     
  • Rajya Sabha usually debates the working of select ministries during a Budget Session.  In Rajya Sabha, ministries of (i) AYUSH, (ii) micro, small and medium enterprises, (iii) home affairs, and (iv) external affairs, were listed for discussion of working of ministries.  Only one out of these four was discussed (Ministry of AYUSH).

94% first-term MPs participated in a debate during the session;96% women MPs participated

  • 265 first-term MPs have been elected to 17th Lok Sabha.  The number of women MPs in 17th Lok Sabha is 78.
     
  • 94% of the first term MPs participated in a debate in the Budget Session.  This is significantly higher than 16th Lok Sabha where 82% of the first term members had participated in a debate in the first session.
     
  • 96% of women MPs participated in a debate during the session.  This is higher than 16th Lok Sabha where 88% of women MPs had participated in a debate in the first session.

Note: Data for 16th Lok Sabha includes data for the first session and second session.  Data for 17th Lok Sabha is up to August 2, 2019.

Lok Sabha does not have a Deputy Speaker after 51 days

  • Article 93 of the Constitution states that Lok Sabha is required to elect the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as soon as possible.
     
  • From 9th Lok Sabha onwards, days to the election of the Deputy Speaker has increased.
     
  • In 17th Lok Sabha, the election for the post of the Deputy Speaker has not been conducted after 51 days from the date of commencement of the first session.  During 16th Lok Sabha, this period was 70 days.
     
  • During 12th Lok Sabha, the post of the Deputy Speaker was vacant till 269 days after the commencement of the first session.

Sources:  Bulletins of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as on August 7, 2019; Statistical Handbook, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 2019; Lok Sabha Secretariat; PRS. 

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