Parliament is wasting time on political controversies, reveals the Citizen's Report on Governance and Development-2006, prepared by the National Social Watch Coalition, that was released on Thursday by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. Indian Parliament has shown a marked decline in number of its sittings per year while it is progressively devoting lesser time to issues of real concern.
The dismal picture is further accentuated by MPs who exhibit a disinterest towards critical issues like drought, insufficient food and water and plight of farmers. According to the report, 16.28 per cent of candidates in Parliament have criminal antecedents. It also comments on the constraints faced by the Indian legal system because of lesser number of judges and unfilled vacancies. "As many as 222 vacancies occurred in all the high courts of the country against an approved strength of 719."
In the Supreme Court, 29,315 cases were pending as on July 1, 2004, and 1,943 cases were pending for more than 5 years. Reflecting on what it termed as Parliament's "derelictions" and "progressive decline in parliamentary behaviour and functioning," the report said, "The 14th Lok Sabha lost 26 per cent of its time in interruptions arising out of various political controversies.
During the same period, the Rajya Sabha lost a total of 29 per cent of its time on corresponding issues." Commenting on representation in the highest policy-making body, the report said that by not legislating on the 33 per cent representation for women in the Central and state legislatures, there was an attempt to perpetuate a "gender bias in political representation." Also, "the success rate of women candidates in elections to the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha is still barely 20-25 per cent which can be considered very low," it added. The report feared that the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme has created another network for corruption and misappropriation of public money.