The recently concluded Winter Session of the Parliament has gone down as one of the most historic sessions, even as the Parliament passed the historic Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 that creates a special procedure for conferring citizenship upon the minorities persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Apart from the passage of the historic legislation, the two houses of the Parliament also witnessed unprecedented efficiency and productivity.
According to Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Pralhad Joshi, the Rajya Sabha recorded 100 per cent productivity under the leadership of its De Facto Chairman, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, while the Lok Sabha witnessed 116 per cent productivity under the leadership of the Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla. Parliamentary Affairs Minister who addressed a press conference after both the Houses were adjourned sine die, also said that the Lok Sabha passed 14 out of 18 bills that were tabled in the house, whereas the Rajya Sabha passed 15 bills. The Parliament passed a total of 15 bills. The Lower house was adjourned just once.
A number of historic bills have been passed by the Parliament in this historic session.
Apart from the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, the Parliament also passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and as per this Amendment, the top grade SPG security cover will be provided to the Prime Minister and his immediate family at the official residence, and former Prime Ministers and their family members for a period of five years from the date on which the PM ceases to hold office. This has greatly reduced and narrowed down the number of persons entitled to the elite security cover. It is, therefore, a major step in the right direction towards rationalisation of country’s resources when it comes to providing security cover. Other important legislations like the Chit Fund (Amendment) Bill and the Arms (Amendment) Bill were also passed by the Parliament in the recently concluded Winter Session, which are expected to bring about far-reaching, positive changes. The government managed to pass the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill. It also brought the Industrial Relations Code Bill, the Personal Data Protection Bill and the Code on Social Security bill.
As per a report by The Indian Express, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha performed well despite occasional disruptions. While the Lower House under Speaker Om Birla worked overtime, the Rajya Sabha had its best Question Hour in 49 years with a daily average of 9.5 questions orally replied to on the floor of the House. The Upper House’s chairman Venkaiah Naidu described the session as one marked by “seriousness and brevity” and noted it was “perhaps the first time” when two consecutive sessions of the Rajya Sabha showed high productivity. The Lok Sabha, for the first time since 1972, got all 20 questions orally replied to by ministers on one day during the Question Hour.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister also said that almost all opposition demands were accommodated and discussions were held on issues of air pollution, problems of farmers and economic situation. Therefore, the Winter Session did not only lead to the passing of certain crucial legislations but also witnessed elaborate discussions and debates, in line with healthy democratic traditions.
The Winter Session started on November 18 and comprised of 20 sittings spread over 26 days. This has thus come as a further boost when it comes to the productive character of Parliament. This also showcases the able leadership of Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, who has been enjoying a golden run as the Speaker of the lower house, who emerged as the most efficient Lok Sabha Speaker in 67 years in one of the previous sessions. Birla has ensured that the Lok Sabha doesn’t merely go through the motions, but actually holds fruitful discussions and substantially performs the functions which it is supposed to perform. The Winter Session corroborates his able leadership and skilful management of Parliamentary proceedings.