Panel suggests around 200 changes in Rajya Sabha Rules

Panel suggests around 200 changes in Rajya Sabha Rules

Opposition members protest in the well of Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Automatic suspension of MPs who rush to the well, deny voting rights for a specific period to lawmakers and who disrupt proceedings are among around 200 changes, including new provisions, suggested by a two-member panel to the rules related to the conduct of MPs in Rajya Sabha.

Officials said that 124 new rules and 77 amendments to existing rules have been suggested by the committee comprising of former secretary general of Rajya Sabha V K Agnihotri and former additional secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice Dinesh Bhardwaj, who held 51 meetings, including with officials of Rajya Sabha Secretariat before submitting their report.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had in May 2018 appointed the two-member 'Rules Review Committee' to suggest changes to the current rules after examining the existing rules, practices, directions and rulings by the Presiding Officers of both the Houses.

He had earlier suggested a comprehensive review of the existing rules, "particularly which seem to be inadequate with the passage of time and are not very specific and require suitable amendments", to facilitate smooth functioning of the House and increased opportunities for participation for MPs in the proceedings.

The Upper House's Secretary General Deepak Verma briefed the General Purposes Committee (GPC) headed by Naidu on Wednesday about the report.

Leaders of 23 parties in the Rajya Sabha, including Leader of the House and Union minister Thaawarchand Gehlot, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Derek O'Brien (Trinamool Congress), A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) and Shri Prasanna Acharya (BJD), attended the meeting.

"These are just suggestions by two former bureaucrats. We have to study it," O'Brien said after the meeting.

Sources said the suggestions in the report included the automatic suspension of MPs who disrupt the proceedings of the House besides denying them the right to vote in the House for a specific period and provisions for removal of Deputy Chairman.

One of the suggestions is learnt to be about Rule 267, which deals with suspending the business of the Rajya Sabha for the day to discuss a matter of urgent importance.

As per the new suggestion, the House could discuss such notice for about 30 minutes and then carry on with other listed business of the day.

Officials said that the existing Rules of Rajya Sabha contain 303 rules regarding various aspects of the functioning of the House.

The next meeting of the GPC will be held after the second part of the Budget Session of Parliament for a detailed consideration of the proposed changes.

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