'RS should have more say in redrawing state boundaries'

Congress senior leader and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. (PTI file photo)

In the backdrop of Modi 2.0 government’s sudden announcement on August 5 about bifurcating the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs, former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday asserted that as a council of states, the Rajya Sabha should have a greater say in legislations dealing with redrawing boundaries of states.

Though Singh did not name the state, the reference was obvious as he spoke at length over the "Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian Polity and Need for Reform" in the House on the first day of its 250th session of the House.

"On some matters, this House should be given greater respect by the executive that is not the case now. For example, important issues like redrawing the boundaries of a state... converting them into Union Territories, is such a far-reaching proposal or legislation, this House, a council of states, should be given more powers to deal with these issues. 

"The government should consult with the council of states much more effectively before such drastic measures can be considered by the House as a whole... it is our duty to ensure that no law is passed in haste and in an atmosphere of heightened emotions,” Singh said.

Singh highlighted the deliberative function of the Upper House. Noting that it is important that the House scrutinise bills more thoroughly in committees, he rued that in the 16th Lok Sabha, only 25% of the Bills introduced were referred to committees, much lower than the 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively. He voiced concern on bypassing Rajya Sabha with legislations being passed as Money Bills by the Lok Sabha.

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