Functioning of 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019)

The 16th Lok Sabha held its sessions between June 2014 to February 2019.  During the 16th Lok Sabha, 133 Bills were passed and 45 Ordinances were promulgated.  Some of the major issues discussed in Parliament were the agrarian crisis in the country, inflation, and various natural calamities.  

Second lowest hours of work done by Lok Sabha in any full term Lok Sabha

·    The 16th Lok Sabha worked for a total number of 1,615 hours, 20% more than the 15th Lok Sabha.  However, this is 40% lower than the average of all full term Lok Sabhas (2,689 hours). 

·    There has been a general decline in the number of sitting days.  The 16th Lok Sabha sat for 331 days.  On average, full term Lok Sabhas sat for 468 days.

·    This Lok Sabha lost 16% of its scheduled time to disruptions, better than the 15th Lok Sabha (37%), but worse than the 14th Lok Sabha (13%).

·    Rajya Sabha lost 36% of its scheduled time.  In the 15th and 14th Lok Sabhas, it lost 32% and 14% of its scheduled time, respectively.

32% of time spent on legislative business, second highest than previous Lok Sabhas

·    Key roles of Parliament include passing Bills and holding the government accountable. 

·    Compared to the first Lok Sabha, later ones have spent less proportion of time on legislative business.  This Lok Sabha spent 32% of its time on legislative business, higher than the average of other Lok Sabhas (25%).

·    MPs have several ways to hold the government accountable.  These include, posing questions to ministers during question hour, initiating debates or calling attention of ministers to important issues.  The 16th Lok Sabha spent 13% of its time on question hour, 10% on short duration discussions, and 0.7% on calling attention motions.

·    Members of Lok Sabha can move a no-confidence motion to express their lack of confidence in the council of ministers.  In the 16th Lok Sabha, a no-confidence motion was moved against the government and discussed in the Monsoon Session of 2018.  This was the 27th time a no-confidence motion was discussed since the first Lok Sabha.  It was discussed for 11 hours 46 minutes and was negatived thereafter.

·    The debate on the President’s Address to Parliament (motion of thanks) is another opportunity to discuss the government’s performance.  Members can discuss issues mentioned in the Address or can amend the motion to include issues that have not been mentioned in the Address.  The motion of thanks was amended twice by Rajya Sabha in 2015 and 2016.  Lok Sabha spent 4.5% of its time, and Rajya Sabha spent 6% of its time debating the President’s Address. 

16th Lok Sabha discussed more Bills for more time but scrutinised less in Committees

·    In the 16th Lok Sabha, 133 Bills were passed, 15% higher than the previous Lok Sabha. 

·    32% of the Bills were discussed for more than three hours in Lok Sabha.  This is higher than the previous two Lok Sabhas (22% and 14% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively).  Bills passed within 30 minutes have decreased significantly from 26% in the 15th Lok Sabha to 6% in the 16th Lok Sabha. 

·    Although more Bills have been discussed for longer, this Lok Sabha has referred a significantly lower proportion of Bills to Committees for scrutiny.  Due to time constraints, it is not possible for each MP to discuss and scrutinise all Bills in the House.  Committees allow for detailed scrutiny of legislation, provide a forum for feedback from various stakeholders, and act as a consensus building platform across political parties.

·    In the 16th Lok Sabha, 25% of the Bills introduced were referred to Committees, much lower than 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively. 

Most Bills passed in financial sector; 46 Bills to lapse across sectors

·    A high proportion of Bills (26%) passed in the 16th Lok Sabha were related to the financial sector.  Some key Bills passed include the GST Bill, the Bankruptcy Code, the Insurance Amendment Bill, and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill.

·    10% of the Bills passed were in the education sector.  One of these Bills changed the no detention policy under the Right To Education Act, and another provided autonomy to IIMs. 

·    At the end of every Lok Sabha, Bills introduced in Rajya Sabha, awaiting debate in that House, carry on to the next Parliament.  All other Bills lapse.  46 Bills across sectors will lapse at the end of this Lok Sabha. 

·    Some Bills that will lapse include the National Medical Commission Bill, the Consumer Protection Bill, the Triple Talaq Bill, the Motor Vehicles Bill, and the Trafficking Bill. 

·    Sectors such as health and transport saw a lower proportion of Bills passed as compared to introduced. (30% and 40% of the Bills introduced were passed, respectively). 

16th Lok Sabha passed 83% percent of the budget without discussion

·    Another key role of Parliament is to approve the Union Budget, and authorise the expenditure of the government. 

·    The Union Budget includes the demand for grants of various ministries which authorises their expenditure.  These demands are discussed ministry-wise.

·    17% of the budget was discussed in the 16th Lok Sabha, higher than the previous two Lok Sabhas. 

·    In budget session 2018-19, 100% of demands were passed without discussion.  This also happened in 2004-05 and 2013-14 during the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha respectively.

18% of starred questions received an oral answer

·    To hold the government accountable, members may pose questions to various ministers.  Starred questions receive an oral reply by the Minister in the House and unstarred questions receive a written reply. 

·    An hour is allocated every morning for replies to starred questions (20 in Lok Sabha and 15 in Rajya Sabha).  Due to lack of time or disruptions, all starred questions do not receive an oral reply. 

·    Over the years, the percentage of starred questions receiving an oral answer has been decreasing.  However, as compared to the 15th Lok Sabha, a greater percentage of questions received an oral reply in this Lok Sabha.  18% of starred questions received an oral answer in the 16th Lok Sabha, as compared to 10% in the 15th Lok Sabha. 

·    Question Hour in Lok Sabha functioned for 67% of its scheduled time as a significant part of this Hour was lost due to disruptions.  The question hour in the last four Lok Sabhas, on average, functioned for 59% of their scheduled time.  In Rajya Sabha, the functioning of question hour as a percentage of scheduled time has been decreasing over the last four Lok Sabhas.  Question hour in Rajya Sabha functioned for a proportion of 41% of its scheduled time during the last two Parliaments. 

Sources:  Bulletins of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as on February 13, 2019; Statistical Handbook, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 2018; Study of sittings and time 1st to 15th Lok Sabha, Lok Sabha Secretariat, September 2014; A Study (8th-15th Lok Sabha), Lok Sabha Secretariat; PRS.

 

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