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Parties must discuss need for minimum sittings of Parliament: Naidu

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Parties must discuss need for minimum sittings of Parliament: Naidu
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Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said political parties should sit together and discuss if the minimum number of sittings of Parliament needed to be fixed, and also recommended automatic suspension of members who rush near the presiding officer’s podium in the house.

The Vice President, who will preside over the Rajya Sabha as Chairman for the first time this winter session, suggested that legislatures may put out in public domain the names of members who disrupt house proceedings with an observation that they have violated rules in disregard of the Chair’s directions and thereby adversely impacted house functioning.

Naidu also suggested a 10 point charter to ensure effective functioning of legislatures in the country, so that people’s respect for the democratic institution can be sustained. These includes devising methods to calculate productivity of the legislature, ranking legislative bodies in the country, and having a quorum for opposition parties as well.

Delayed winter session to begin on December 15 and will continue till January 5

“There is a serious need to consider a proposal that Parliament should meet for at least 100 days a year. Political parties need to seriously consider the minimum number of days for which Parliament should meet,” he said, while delivering a lecture on “Importance of Legislatures” organised by thinktank PRS Legislative Research.

His comments come at a time when opposition parties have accused the government of undermining the importance of Parliament by delaying the winter session. The session was delayed due to the Gujarat assembly elections and will now be conducted from December 15 to January 1.

The Vice President also said that to address the “menace” of members rushing towards the presiding officer’s podium, there was a need for specific provisions in the rules of business for “automatic suspension” of those who do so, adding that a consensus in this regard needs to be evolved.

Naidu also voiced concern over the low number of sittings of assemblies in the states.

“State assemblies met for 29 days, on an average. In general, the duration of meetings has been constantly decreasing. Of these, sometimes the opposition boycotts the assembly session. Some states like Kerala met for a longer period,” he said.

Naidu also called for passing the bill on the reservation to women in Parliament and assemblies, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010.

The Vice President said contrary to perception, Parliament works round the year with its Ministry-related Standing Committees and other panels enhancing its efficacy in legislative, deliberative and overseeing functions.

Giving out figures, Naidu said the First Lok Sabha had 677 sittings and passed 319 bills during 1952-57, as compared with 332 sittings and passage of 247 bills of the 14th Lok Sabha during 2004-09. The 15th Lok Sabha had 357 sittings and approved 181 bills.

He said that from these statistics, it would not be correct to conclude that Parliament is shirking its responsibilities, adding that there was need to pass more legislation after Independence.