The Citizens Report on Governance and Development 2004 has criticised elected representatives for failing to perform their duties that was increasingly reflected in the rapid decline of democracy in the country.
By Our Staff Correspondent NEW DELHI, DEC. 2:. The Citizens Report on Governance and Development 2004 has criticised elected representatives for failing to perform their duties that was increasingly reflected in the rapid decline of democracy in the country. Brought out by Social Watch India, a non-government organisation, the report said Parliament had failed to make democracy work as it wasted parliamentary time and public money on inter-party controversies.
There was, however, praise for the "quality work" of standing committees, Parliament's approval of important legislative measures and the occasional debates on basic issues affecting the public. The Lok Sabha lost over 60 hours to disruptions in 2003 and the cost of parliamentary transactions is estimated to be Rs. 18,430 per minute. "The only thing that can be said in favour of the members of Parliament is that the time lost due to disruptions was less in 2003 as compared to 2002.
One can perhaps attribute this marginal improvement to the increasing media attention to disruption of Parliament and the mounting public displeasure over the way MPs were squandering public money.'' The report said from the time of its inception in 1952, for 36 years, the Lok Sabha sat for over 100 days every year. It averaged 138 sittings in a year for several years but this came down to 102 in 1988. Since then it has fallen to about 80 days annually. But in 2003, it saw a further decline â€” just 74 days during the year. Further, the report says, more than 30 Bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha, some for more than 10 years. These include the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill introduced in 1987. The Lok Sabha saw 30-40 Bills pending at the end of every session in 2003. At the end of the 14th session, the number of pending private members' Bills stood at 261.
The continuing absenteeism at parliamentary committees has been described as a cause for worry in the report. On an average, most of the committees recorded only 45-50 per cent attendance. Among the standing committees, the Committee on Railway recorded the lowest attendance during 2003 â€” a mere 14 per cent. The reduced time available to parliamentarians can also be seen in the number of notices that do not come up. During the budget session of Lok Sabha, for example, 280 notices were received by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, of which only six were admitted and only four completed, the report said. Also, during the budget session of the Lok Sabha, 702 starred questions were listed for oral answers but only 131 were answered. During the monsoon session, of the 440 starred questions put down on the list, only 44 were orally answered. The report is aimed at democratising knowledge and strengthening citizens to make governance participatory, accountable and inclusive.