Parliament functioning in Budget Session 2020

The budget session of Parliament was held from January 31, 2020 to March 23, 2020, with a recess from February 12 to March 1, 2020.  The session was scheduled to have 31 sittings and end on April 3, 2020.  However, considering the public health emergency situation due to the Coronavirus outbreak Parliament adjourned sine die on March 23, 2020 having sat for a total of 23 days. 

Lok Sabha worked for 86% and Rajya Sabha worked for 74% of the scheduled time


  • Overall productivity this session was lower than the previous two sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha.  While productivity was high in the first half, in the second half productivity declined due to disruptions in both Houses.  In this session, Lok Sabha sat for 86% of its scheduled time (as per sittings held till March 23, 2020).  In the first half, Lok Sabha functioned for 94% of the scheduled time, and post recess, it functioned for 82% of the scheduled time.
  • Rajya Sabha’s productivity during the entire budget session was at 74%.  In the first half, the Upper House functioned for 94% of the scheduled time.  Post recess, it functioned for 62% of the scheduled time.
  • Parliament was interrupted on a few occasions as opposition members raised the issue of lack of law and order in multiple parts of Delhi.  Seven MPs from Lok Sabha were suspended on March 5 for the remaining time period of the session.  This suspension was revoked on March 11.  The issue of law and order in Delhi was later discussed for 4.5 hours each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

Lok Sabha spent 39% of the time discussing budget

  • Lok Sabha spent most of its time (39%) discussing the budget, which is higher than the average of budget sessions in the past 15 years (33%).
  • Rajya Sabha spent most of its time (45%) on non-legislative debates, whereas Lok Sabha spent 31% of its time on such debates.  This included the discussion on the President’s address at the beginning of the session. 
  • Lok Sabha spent 15% of its time discussing Bills such as the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020.  This is less than the average time spent by both the Houses on legislative business in the last 15 years.  This could be because the session’s second half, when typically most of the legislative business is carried out, was cut short.
  • In the past 15 years, on average, Rajya Sabha spent 25% of its time on debating Bills.  During this session, Rajya Sabha spent 19% of its time on discussing Bills.

Lok Sabha discussed 17% of the expenditure by ministries for 22 hours

Note: Percentage of demands discussed has been calculated from 2016-17 when the Railway Budget was subsumed in the General Budget.

  • During a budget session, Lok Sabha discusses expenditure of selected ministries after recess.  This session, expenditure of the following Ministries were listed for discussion in Lok Sabha: (i) Railways, (ii) Social Justice and Empowerment, (iii) Tourism, (iv) Health and Family Welfare, (v) External Affairs, and (vi) Housing and Urban Affairs.     Of these, the discussion was held on the expenditure of the Ministries of: (i) Railways, (ii) Social Justice and Empowerment, and (iii) Tourism.  These form 17% of the total expenditure of the central government.  The remaining 83% of expenditure was guillotined (or passed without discussion).  
  • Expenditure of these three Ministries was discussed for 21.9 hours in Lok Sabha.  This is higher than the average of the past 27 years (14.9 hours).
  • Rajya Sabha discusses the working of select Ministries during a Budget Session after the recess.  This session, working of the Ministries of (i) Rural Development, (ii) Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, (iii) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), (iv) Law and Justice, and (v) Railways, were listed for discussion.  Of these, working of the Ministries of Railways, MSME, and Law and Justice were discussed.  

Question hour functioned for 64% of time in Lok Sabha; 43% in Rajya Sabha

  • Question Hour functioned for 64% of its scheduled time in Lok Sabha and, 43% in Rajya Sabha.  
  • In Lok Sabha, 24% of the questions were answered orally by Ministers.  In Rajya Sabha, 25% of the questions received an oral answer from a Minister.  On average, in the past 20 years, 15% of the questions in Lok Sabha and 18% of the questions in Rajya Sabha have been answered orally during a session.

This is the longest period in Lok Sabha without a Deputy Speaker

  • Article 93 of the Constitution states that Lok Sabha will choose two members of the House to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker at the earliest possible.
  • In the 17th Lok Sabha, the election for the post of Deputy Speaker has not been conducted after 280 days from the commencement of the first session.  
  • During the 16th Lok Sabha, this period was 70 days.  Previously, this period was the highest during the 12th Lok Sabha (269 days). 

Note:  Scheduled time has been calculated as per 23 sittings held from January 31, 2020 till March 23, 2020.  

Sources:  Bulletins of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as on March 23, 2020; Statistical Handbook, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 2019; PRS. 


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