Rajya Sabha lost 4,186 hours to disruptions in 41 years

Rajya Sabha lost 4,186 hours to disruptions in 41 years, 27.57% time spent on law-making

Representative image. (Credit: PTI Photo)

Rajya has lost 4,186 hours to disruptions in 41 years during 1978-2018 while it utilised 3,429 hours on lawmaking, a first of its kind analysis by Rajya Sabha Secretariat has shown.

It showed that 27.57% of the total functional time (13,946 hours) during the sessions in 41 years were spent on legislation while 40.20% was utilised for deliberating various issues of public importance. It also showed 32.22% of the time was spent in ensuring the accountability of the executive.

The analysis, which is done for a 41-year period since 1978 for which required data is available, came after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu sought to know the time spent by the House on legislative, oversight and deliberative.

The Rajya Sabha had 3,022 sittings during the 41 years under analysis where 18,132 hours were available for business. However, business could be transacted for only 13,946 hours or 76.91%, due to disruptions. The Upper House transacted business at an average of 340 hours per year excluding disruptions. In effect, it said this equalled to 57 sittings without any disruptions per year while 17 sittings on an average were lost due to disruptions every year.

In these 41 years, Rajya Sabha spent up to 20% of its time on making laws in 12 years, 21% to 30% in 21 years, 31% to 35% in the next six years and 36% to 40% in next two years.

On legislation, the analysis showed that 24.05% of the time spent on consideration and passing of the government Bills and 3.52% on Private Members’ Bills. During this period, the House spent 3,429 hours on dealing with government Bills and 489 hours on Private Members’ Bills.

The report said legislation is need-based and time for discussing Bills is allocated by the Business Advisory Committee. The adequacy of the time spent on such proposals  or otherwise may not be amenable to any objective assessment.

It said time spent on government Bills ranged from 10.87% of the total time in 2015 to 40.09% in 2002.  However, this has touched a record high of 45.90% during the 250th Session of Rajya Sabha last year.  A record 15 Bills were passed with the House spending 49.08 hours out of the total session time of 107.05 hours during this session.

When it comes to deliberative functions, the analysis showed that general discussion on Budget took 7.08% of the total functional time during 1978-2018 while the share of debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Speech comes to 4.36%. Zero Hour and Special Mentions took about 10% of the time and functioning of ministries took 3.93% of the time.

The Oversight function of the House is ensured through Questions (timeshare of 14.19%), Calling Attention Notices (7.11%), Statements of Ministers on various issues (6.33%), Private Members’ Resolutions (3.16%) and Half an Hour Discussions (1.25%) among others.

Rajya Sabha during 1978-2018 in a snapshot: 

* Total sittings: 3,022
* Total Transacted business:13,946 hours (as against total available time of 18,132 hours)
*  Productivity of the House: 76.91%
*  Lost due to disruptions 23.09%
* Transacted business at an average of 340 hours per year excluding disruptions. In effect equals to 57 sittings without any disruptions per year 
* Sittings lost every year due to disruptions: 17
* Actual functional time, excluding disruptions, range: 139 hours to 580 hours per year
* Rajya Sabha functioned for 139 to 200 hours in 5 years; 201 to 300 hours – 14 years; 301 to 400 hours – 7 years; 401 to 500 hours – 9 years and over 500 hours in 6 years
* All instances of working for above 500 hours per year were during 1978-1988
* Since 1995, there were only 6 instances of the House functioning for more than 300 hours per year during the 23 years
* Since 2010, it has been below 300 hours per year