Parliament has become one of the most active protest sites, spending a large part of its scheduled working hours there. It meets 60 to 70 days a year, divided into three sessions – Budget, Monsoon and Winter – while both houses work from 11 am to 6 pm with a break of one hour.
This year’s monsoon session began on Thursday and, like in the recent past, was eventually adjourned for the whole day amid repeated protests. Opposition parties staged protests over the unrest in Manipur – demanding discussion in the lower and upper houses – and demanded the Prime Minister’s statement on it. It is not surprising, therefore, that the session of both the Houses once again began in a tumultuous manner.
Parliament’s performance in 2023 so far
According to data from PRS Legislative Research, the productivity rate of the budget session, which usually performs well, hit a low. The Lok Sabha could function for only 33 per cent of its scheduled working hours, while it was 24 per cent for the Rajya Sabha. Earlier, the budget session in 2018 had recorded such a poor performance – 21 per cent for the Lok Sabha and 27 per cent for the Rajya Sabha.
There were 25-25 sittings in both the houses of the Parliament. The lower house functioned for 46 hours, with 96 hours lost due to obstructions and adjournments. The Upper House had the worst record – 32 hours and 14 minutes and 109 hours were wasted due to disruptions.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s comments against the BJP-led central government in London created a lot of uproar. Some opposition parties, including the Congress, protested against the Hindenburg report against the Adani group and also demanded an inquiry by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
17th Lok Sabha: Productivity rate from 2019 to 2022
The data shows that the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha began on June 17, 2019 with the oath and affirmation by the new members as well as the election of the Speaker of the House. The first session of the Rajya Sabha during the 17th Lok Sabha or its 249th session began three days later on 20 June. The Lok Sabha had 37 sittings while the Rajya Sabha had 35 sittings.
The session witnessed over 100 per cent productivity. The data shows that the lower house worked 135 per cent more than its prescribed working hours. The Upper House also gave a 100 per cent productivity rate, using all its working hours.
The LS was expected to sit for 280 hours and added a further 73.14 hours with late night meetings. Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha was expected to sit for 195 hours and 35 minutes but lost 19 hours and 12 minutes due to interruptions and adjournments; This was compensated for by adding late night meetings.
The productivity of the 2019 Winter Session was also excellent. It was 111 per cent for the Lok Sabha and 92 per cent for the Rajya Sabha, but the productivity rate was lower for the sessions during 2020 and 2021 – the pandemic years – due to the Covid crisis. The demonstration was adversely affected due to short number of days, large number of absentees, lack of debate while passing legislation and cancellation of one session.
In the budget session of 2020, 31 meetings were to be held but only 23 days were held. Parliament was adjourned sine die on March 23, 2020 and hence, the productivity level of Lok Sabha stood at 86 per cent, while it was 74 per cent for Rajya Sabha.
The Monsoon Session was delayed and began on September 14, 2020. It was to end on October 1, 2020, but ended earlier on September 23, 2020. The 10-day session recorded 145 per cent productivity in the Lower House and 99 per cent in the Upper House. Winter session has been cancelled.
All the three sessions were to be held in 2021. The productivity of LS and RS during the budget session was 107 per cent and 90 per cent respectively. The session usually begins with the presentation of the Union Budget and related financial bills and is expected to be the most productive of the three sessions.
But there was a sharp drop in productivity in the monsoon session, which began on July 19, 2021, and ended two days before its last working day. Productivity fell by 21 per cent in the Lok Sabha and 29 per cent in the Rajya Sabha following protests by opposition parties demanding discussion on farm laws and farmers’ protests, price hikes and the Pegasus scam.
In the winter session of 2021, 12 MPs were suspended for their unruly behavior during the monsoon session. This increased the opposition of the opposition parties but the performance of this session was better on the scale of productivity. The lower house worked for 77 per cent of its allotted time while it was 43 per cent for the upper house.
The year 2022 followed the trend of 2021. The productivity of Lok Sabha during the budget session was 123 per cent while it was 90 per cent for Rajya Sabha. During the monsoon session, it came down to 47 per cent for the former and 42 per cent for the latter.
54 working hours were lost in Lok Sabha and 76 in Rajya Sabha due to obstructions and adjournments. The session was to conclude on August 12, 2022, but due to disruptions, it had to end on August 8, 2022.
Rival parties protested against the price hike and imposition of GST on some essential items. The performance of the winter session was better and the productivity rate of the Lower House was 88 per cent while that of the Upper House was 94 per cent.