Recently the government released draft rules under the Right to Information Act for consultation before it finalised them. This process of public consultation on draft rules is a welcome step which is not often followed. Many Acts passed by Parliament 'delegate' the power to make rules and regulations to the executive (government and regulatory bodies such as RBI and TRAI). The reason is that these rules may need to be changed at frequent intervals (such as, say specifications on food labels), and may not need the time and expense required for amendment to the Act by Parliament. However, Parliament retains for itself the power to examine these rules. Most Acts passed by Parliament provide that rules framed under them will be laid before the Parliament. Any Member of Parliament may demand a discussion on the rules and a vote to modify or nullify them. In practice, a large number of rules are laid before Parliament, making it very difficult for Parliamentarians to examine them effectively. In the last session of Parliament, more than 1500 documents were laid before Parliament. No discussion on specific rules has taken place in Parliament in the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha (2004-10). Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have Committees on Subordinate Legislation to examine these rules. Out of 1515 rules, regulations, circulars and schemes laid before Lok Sabha between 2008 and 2010, the Committee has examined 44 documents. This amounts to only 3% of the afore-mentioned documents laid before the Lok Sabha. It is important that Parliament oversee the power to make rules that it has delegated to the government. For that, it needs to invest in strengthening the research staff of the committee on subordinate legislation as well as provide research stafff to MPs.
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha