NEW DELHI: Expressing anguish and concern over the government hurriedly passing legislations, members from 17 political parties on Friday wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu urging him to ensure that the voice of the Opposition is not “smothered” in the Upper House. The letter signed by MPs from opposition parties said there is a fundamental departure from the established practice and healthy traditions of enacting laws.
“We wish to register our anguish and serious concern over the manner in which the government is hurriedly passing legislations without any scrutiny by parliamentary standing or select committees,” said the letter. The opposition said while 60 per cent of the Bills were sent to parliamentary panels in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71 per cent in the 15th Lok Sabha, only 26 per cent of the Bills were sent for scrutiny in the 16th Lok Sabha.
“Now, in the 17th Lok Sabha, 14 Bills have already been passed in the first session. None of these Bills have been referred to a Standing Committee or Select Committee for legislative scrutiny. While we understand our responsibility and the need to enact legislations, any attempt by the government to undermine the privileges of members, the rules and established conventions will diminish the role of the Council of States as envisaged by our founding fathers,” said the letter.
The MPs said the purpose behind the letter is to see that appropriate steps to protect the rights of the members are initiated. Citing Rule 176 in the RS that allows members to raise matters of urgent public importance, they said: “There is a long-standing convention to have one Short Duration Discussion each week. In the four weeks of the Budget session, only two Short Duration Discussions have been allowed.”
A day after uproar in the Rajya Sabha over some BJP members, including two ministers, canvassing for the party during voting on RTI Bill, 2019, Chairman Naidu expressed shock at the behaviour of the members. “What happened yesterday has pained me. It has pained the people of the country. We should see to it that such situations and such scenes are avoided in future,” he told the House during the Zero Hour. During voting on the Bill, BJP’s C M Ramesh was seen telling TDP lawmakers to vote in favour of the government.