Unruly behaviour by MPs
The unruly behaviour by MPs is common in parliament. A number of crucial bills have taken an inordinate time to be enacted due to disruption, while others were not enacted despite a broad consensus — such as the Women’s Reservation Bill — due to the behaviour of a few naysayers. Many sessions of Parliament in the recent past saw little business being done due to repeated disruption.
Need for model code of conduct
In this context, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s exhortation to political parties to incorporate a model code of conduct for their legislators in State Assemblies and in Parliament is welcome. He suggested that the code should include stipulations on members not entering the well of the House, and desisting from sloganeering and unruly acts. If indeed parties adopt a code, it will go a long way in making parliamentary work meaningful. Otherwise, the general public will lose interest in the procedural aspects of parliamentary democracy and limit their participation to just voting in the elections.
Recent trend of lack of discussion
The current Budget session sailed through with minimal disruption. The high productivity during the session came without sufficient deliberation over crucial bills, several of which were rushed through without vetting by parliamentary standing and select committees. These committees have in the past been useful in expanding discussion over laws with civil society and experts from various streams of the larger society. They have also facilitated an enhanced cross-party coordination over issues. Time spent on debates in the current session in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was barely a third of the overall business. This does not augur well for lawmaking. As Mr. Naidu has also pointed out correctly, deliberation is an important component of parliamentary democracy apart from legislation and accountability of lawmakers. All three aspects must cohere for a thoroughgoing procedural democracy.