Asking legislators, lawmakers, and public servants to give importance to duty for the next 25 years, when India celebrates its 100th anniversary of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday emphasised on quality and decency of debates in Parliament and Assemblies, and said that the spirit of debates in Houses should be “Indianness.”
Addressing through virtual mode the All India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC) on its centenary year at an event held in Shimla, Modi also advocated the idea of “One Nation, One Legislative Platform”.
He suggested that there should be a portal that not only gives the necessary technological boost to India’s Parliamentary system but also works to connect all democratic units of the country. This portal, he said, should provide research material for all lawmakers.
Addressing the presiding officers, Modi said, “The next 25 years are very important for India. In this period, we can implement only one mantra with full commitment and responsibility: Duty, Duty, Duty. Duty in every action word and lifestyle. It will have its impact on every development and in every citizen. The mantra that will take us forward should be duty.”
Emphasising quality debate in Parliament and Assemblies, Modi said, “The tradition and arrangements of our Houses should be Indian in nature. Our policies and laws should strengthen the spirit of Indianness — the resolve of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’. Most important, our conduct in the House should be according to Indian values. It is the responsibility of all of us that we debate in a healthy way on the floor of Houses.”
He said: “Can we (also) think of setting a separate time for quality debates? Debates in which dignity, seriousness is followed, and no one makes political slurs. In a way, it should be the healthiest time for the House…”
Addressing the conference, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla called for “some decisive measures” to enhance the dignity and decorum of legislative bodies.
Expressing concern about the decrease in the number of sittings of legislatures, and the decline in discussion over Bills, Birla said it is time for some decisive measures by consulting all political parties to enhance dignity and decorum of lawmaking bodies. By the time India celebrates 100 years of Independence, there has to be a collective resolve to prepare a model document that ensures uniformity in rules and procedures for all legislative bodies across the country, he said.
“Those rules should be as per hopes and aspirations of the citizens,” Birla said. “We should also review our rules and procedures of legislatures to ensure people’s rights are protected and to make the public representatives more accountable and transparent to them (people).”
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh said it has been observed that assurances given on the floor of the House have been pending in many legislative Assemblies for 25-35 years. “Similarly, 842 assurances are lying in Rajya Sabha from different ministries, out of which a large number are from before 10 years. The position of assurances in Lok Sabha will also be similar…these are just empty promises…. A sunset clause is put in Acts that are passed in many countries, due to which those Acts automatically expire after some period. It should be considered here as well,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in Himachal Pradesh Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri said, “The legislature is not a platform to hide information but now it is seen that information through RTI is received earlier and it gets delayed in Assemblies, which is an issue of concern…. There was a time when presiding officers did not go in meetings of (political) parties and did not campaign during elections, but this tradition is being broken in states…”