According to well-established convention, since April 2, 1952, three sessions of Parliament are held in a year — budget session from February to May, monsoon session from July to September and winter session from November to mid-December. The length of each session and the dates are the prerogative of the cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs. The Constitution mandates that the gap between two sessions cannot exceed six months. The violation of this well-established convention has often taken place in the hands of the party in power, whenever and wherever suitable. The United Progressive Alliance government violated it in 2008 by deferring the monsoon session. Now, the National Democratic Alliance government has called the session from December 15, thwarting the established convention.
It is a known fact that there are frequent disruptions and adjournments and even several sessions are washed out without transacting any business, burdening the taxpayers enormously. As a result, there has been a sharp decline in productive hours of Parliament. This session is expected to be stormy, as it would only have 14 sittings compared to 22 last year. Also, several serious issues including the Vyapam scam of Madhya Pradesh, goods and services tax and demonetisation are expected to be taken up by the Opposition, which are expected to have a deleterious effect on the Gujarat polls which the Modi government wanted to utilise to escape its parliamentary responsibility.
Not calling the session at the appropriate time weakens India’s parliamentary system and consequently the political system. If the decline continues unabated, and the executive becomes reckless and public opinion is ignored, the country will be in peril.
S K Khosla Chandigarh
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