India chose Parliamentary form of government over the Presidential form of the government. The reasoning was that while the presidential system provides a higher level of stability, the parliamentary system is better at holding the government to account on a daily basis through questions, motions and debates. 

The functions of Parliament as per Subhash Kashyap in “Our Parliament” 

  1. Political and financial control
  2. Supervision of administration (Article 75)
  3. Elicitation and dissemination of information on the government of the day 
  4. Grievance Ventilation 
  5. National integration 
  6. Legislative and constituent functions 
  7. Furnishing leadership to the nation.  


Reasons for declining effectiveness of the Parliament and state legislature  

  1. Criminalization  of Politics : Candidates facing criminal charges are twice as likely to get elected compared to those with clean records. This impacts the quality of discussion and debate in the parliament. According to ADR, there is 26% increase in MPs facing criminal charges with respect to 2014 Lok Sabha. 
  2. Frequent disruptions : This weakens the executive accountability to the legislature as the bills are being passed without elaborate discussion.  
  3. Executive led Legislature : The private members bills are not taken up for discussion and debate. Last private members bill was passed in 1970. 
  4. Anti Defection Law : MPs and MLAs do not have the freedom to speak in the Parliament as  violation of the whip could lead to an MP’s disqualification from the membership of the  House. It is also weakening the democratic accountability of MPs towards their constituencies and promotes undue loyalty to the political parties.  
  5. Absenteeism of members and Reduced number of sittings  : The complexity of the legislative work is increasing but the number of sittings are declining along with increasing absenteeism. 
  6. Voice vote and the Partisan role of speaker : We may not know the exact number of votes in the favour of the bill/amendment  therefore voice vote is diluting the executive accountability towards the legislature.  
  7. Weak Financial Accountability : DFG are frequently guillotined. Example:  The economic relief package to address the economic crisis sparked by the health crisis and the lockdown have not been subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
  8. Research support for MPs. – Most of the MPs have limited or no research support. Therefore , expert advice is missing. LARRDIS ( Parliament’s Library and reference, research, documentation and information service) is understaffed and no funds are allocated for parliamentarians to hire necessary research support.  
  9. Women representation : India has among the lowest women representation in legislative houses , never crossed even 12% mark which is worrisome trend for largest democracy of the world.  
  10. Resort to Ordinance Route : Dr Ambedkar expected ordinance to be a dead letter to be used by executive to make law during exigencies but it has become deadly weapon.  
  11. Partisan role of the presiding officer of the House : The significant role played by the presiding officer requires trust of the members of all the parties in the House. The delay in multiple state assemblies in taking decision with respect to anti defection act like karnataka assembly also impacts the functioning of the House. 


Impacts of Improper functioning of Parliament and state legislatures 

  1. Judicial over-reach and Judicial Activism : The judiciary will be actively play role in forcing the other two organs of the government (legislature and executive) to discharge their constitutional duties. Example- NGT directing state government to make appointments to state pollution control board. Example – Allahabad High court directing lockdown in 5 cities to check surge in COVID cases. 
  2. Weakens the social Contract : Loss of faith & participation in democratic process ex reduced voter turnout , lower tax collection.
  3. Violates the principle of Checks and Balances
  4. Impacts the fundamental rights of the people
  5. Political inequality will  translate into economic and social inequalities.

How to reinstate the effectiveness of the working of Parliament and state legislature 

  1. Re-instate the sanctity of question Hour : The question hour is potent weapon in the hand of MPs to question all government needs revamp. There is need to strictly define the penalties for disrupting a Question Hour. Any disturbance during Question Hour should call for automatic suspension of the concerned MP from the house and his/her dis-entitlement to the sitting allowance for the day. 
  2. Yearly calendar for the sittings of the Parliament and the state legislature. Democracies like UK, US and Germany have fixed parliamentary calendars. NCRWC recommends that it shall be 120 and 100 days respectively for Lok sabha and rajya Sabha.  
  3. Prime Minister’s Questions like in UK to be introduced in India which makes accountability from highest level possible and address the bigger policy questions.  
  4. Giving opposition the authority to decide the agenda of the House : Some days in every session should be dedicated to discuss the agenda decided by the Opposition. 
  5. Performance linked allowance for parliamentary sittings. In case of disruptions, MPs should be penalized and allowance should be deducted for the unproductive sitting.
  6. The Anti-Defection Act needs revamp : It should be used only in the most exceptional circumstances which impact the stability of the government and allowing MPs to express freely on the floor of House. 
  7. Allowing Parliament to convene itself : Presently ,the power to summon parliament rests with the executive. Parliament should convene itself if a certain number of MPs agree that Parliamentary sitting is necessary without any delay.  
  8. A Parliamentary Budget office as an independent and impartial body linked directly to Parliament akin to USA congressional budget office that will help the Parliament to hold the executive’s financial accountability.  
  9. Dedicated funding for LARRDIS (Library and reference, research, documentation and information service) 
  10. Women Representation : The political parties should make voluntary efforts to increase women representation. B.R. Ambedkar said that “political power is the key to all social progress”.  
  11. Referring the bills for Parliamentary committee and Public consultation.  




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