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Respect the legislation

Respect the legislation

The Winter session of Parliament has seen little work in comparison to the complementing ruckus. Since December 11, the number of bills passed has been less than the number of MPs suspended on account of indiscipline. Disruptions caused by MPs not only interrupt the flow of proceedings in a most valued time-period of limited Parliament days – but it further obfuscates the smooth passage of bills. Bills which are tantamount to societal necessities that the government seeks to bring in, much desperately before the Lok Sabha elections this year. For instance, the Triple Talaq Bill is still stuck in the Upper House because of a series of either adjournments or disruptions staged by AIADMK and some DMK members over the contentious Cauvery issue whose pertinence has been given impetus in both the Houses, specifically in this Winter session. The disruptions went to such an extent that the Lok Sabha speaker, over the course of two successive days, had to suspend as many as 45 Members of Parliament. The unruly behaviour staged by the members of the two parties compounded to early adjournment and consequently a delay in taking up important matters that the House is responsible for. Sumitra Mahajan was stressed over the continuous commotion arising from AIADMK and TDP members loitering in the Well of the Lok Sabha with slogans and banners, demanding to stall the dam on Cauvery River and assigning a special state status to Andhra Pradesh. Despite the warning, the ruckus continued. With so much work pending, disturbing elements have to be dealt with severity to respect the order of the House which is trying to delve into discussions pertaining to important matters of national interest. Therefore, under Rule 374 (A) of Lok Sabha proceedings, the Speaker exercised the endowed powers to remove these noisy elements for the rest of the session. And, quite rightly, this was the only way to restore the order of the House of Representatives that has been vested with the power to steer the nation ahead with its legislation. Nevertheless, the suspended MPs continued to protest, asserting their demands. Key bills that had been stalled but saw the light of the day after being passed by Rajya Sabha were the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While the Surrogacy and Triple Talaq took the headlines, there is a pool of bills that the government intends to pass in the remaining time till January 8, 2019. This has been the least productive session of the 16th Lok Sabha, which also happens to be the last before the next general election. Just when some crucial bills passed the passage halfway, disruptions have hindered their progress. While the pandemonium by members while discussing matters of national interest has been a regular feature of the Parliament in India, it is a huge waste of time. Disruptions caused in the limited days of both Houses in each session is a matter of serious concern not just because the important bills tabled could not be passed, if not being tabled at all. And, that, is a serious disregard on members who are representing the entire country, upon whom the legislative future of the nation rests. Not just the money spent into account but the insult on democracy's fourth pillar is undesirable, yet prevalent. It is for the sacrosanct Houses' functionality and imperative decision-making that the powers to suspend members have been vested in the Speakers of the Houses. The image of the Houses with these hindrances, amidst stormy sessions over highly contentious issues such as Rafale, has been tainted with criticism. When Parliament convenes, the nation watches and it not only learns its fate regarding governance but also how the mandate has reached centre-stage. These disruptions cause a mockery of legislation in front of the entire nation. An average citizen's tax money goes down the drain when any parliamentarian resorts to juvenile behaviour in a place where civilised discussions and mutual consideration is of paramount importance and in the interest of an entire nation. What must be realised is that raising an issue has never been denied but disrupting an important session because of separate demands is unappreciated. It is ever parliamentarian's duty to conduct civilised debate, patiently listening to each other, informing citizens and allowing democracy to function normally instead of running down the sanctity of the institution. They must not forget that the entire nation is watching and learning – how their representatives behave and how legislation is done. And, in the light of recent events, they can do better! Legislation deserves the respect it possesses in a democracy, and India should realise that being the largest functional democracy in the world.

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