The historic 250th session of the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday with a near 100 per cent productivity after Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu summed it up as one marked by ‘seriousness and brevity’.
He complimented the members for making this session productive and for improving the quality of debates.
“I am overall happy for this session, but for the small disappointment which also could have been avoided,” he told the House during his valedictory address at the completion of the 250th session. His oblique reference was to express disappointment over interruptions on the last day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the valedictory remarks.
“I am glad that collectively, all of you have risen to the occasion and kept up the happy tide. I would like to sum up the course of this historic session as one marked by seriousness and brevity,” Chairman Naidu said.
The Chairman said the near 100 per cent productive winter session steadied the ship, which has been facing stormy waters for some time now. He said the Upper House clocked the best performance in 49 years with 9.5 starred questions orally replied every day and 39 per cent of the time spent on passing Bills.
Chairman Naidu informed the House that as against the total scheduled available time of 108 hours 33 minutes during the winter session with 20 sittings, the House functioned for 107 hours 11 minutes resulting in productivity of over 99 per cent.
He further noted that the last monsoon session with over 100 per cent productivity succeeded by equally effective winter session was perhaps the first time that the House functioned so well for two consecutive sessions.
“A total of 11 hours 47 minutes, accounting for about 11 pc of the available time of the House has been lost due to interruptions. Spurred by the sense of duty, the members, however, sat for 10 hours 52 minutes beyond the scheduled hours, resulting in productivity of close to 100 pc during the session”, Chairman Naidu said.
The Rajya Sabha chairman said the seriousness is borne out of a definite sense of purpose of enhancing the dignity of the august institution.
He said while the last session recorded productivity of 104 per cent by availing more than available time for transacting business, this session too has clocked 100 per cent productivity.
“This is perhaps for the first time that this House has recorded 100 pc productivity for two successive sessions. For me, this is a certain proof of this ship being steadied and all of you deserve credit for it,” Chairman Naidu said.
The Chairman informed the House that during the winter session, 39 per cent of the total functional time was spent on legislative business, 25.40 per cent on raising and discussing matters of urgent public importance under various instruments, 13 per cent on Question Hour and 5 per cent on private members’ bills.
The House discussed the state of economy under short duration discussion besides the Pegasus spyware issue and completion of major irrigation projects under two Calling Attention Notices.
The Chairman said 15 Bills were passed during the winter session and the discussions were qualitative as “they have brought out the best from all sides of this august House. Spirited arguments and counter-arguments were made from both sides.”
“While the opposition flagged their concerns, the treasury benches sought to address them in equal spirit. This heightened quality of debates deservedly got the media space proving a point that it is not disruptions alone that fetch space (in the media) but meaningful debates get even more,” he said.
Chairman Naidu also complimented the members and the ministers for the same by being brief with the questions and replies. He said 199 Zero Hour submissions and 115 Special Mentions were made at the rate of record 14 and 7 per day, respectively, as against 9 and 5.50 during the last session.
The Chairman also expressed happiness over rising number of members speaking in native Indian languages such as Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and Santhali, for the first time in 67 years during this session.
“In fact, I am keen to conduct the proceedings of the House in my native language Telugu for a full day and hope to do so soon,” Chairman Naidu said.
In the Rajya Sabha a Special discussion on ‘The Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian polity and the way forward’ was held. One discussion under rule 176 was held on the economic situation in the country.
Also, three calling attention motions on ‘Situation arising out of the dangerous levels of air pollution in the country, particularly in Delhi’, ‘Reported use of spyware Pegasus to compromise phone data of some persons through WhatsApp’ and “Need for completion of National Irrigation Projects to tackle emerging water crisis and to transfer ‘Water’ to Concurrent List from State List” were also taken up in the Rajya Sabha.
A special function was held in the Central Hall of Parliament on 26th November 2019 for Members of both Houses of Parliament to commemorate the 70 years of adoption of the Constitution. On the occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs addressed the gathering.
He expressed happiness over all sections of the House collectively demonstrating that “Parliamentary democracy is more about contestation of ideas and ideologies than confrontation which carries a tinge of conflict in its womb”.
He also complimented the members for demonstrating their resolve to send out a positive message in the context of public disapproval of the dysfunctionality that has come to mark the legislatures across the country.
Referring to the passing of record four Bills on the penultimate day of the session with detailed discussion by sitting for about 3 hours beyond the scheduled time, Chairman Naidu said the 15 Bills passed by the House include the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill for extending reservation for SCs & STs in the Legislatures by another 10 years, the Bill banning E-cigarettes, the International Financial Services Centre Bill and The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill.
Four old pending Bills namely the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 1987, the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill, 2011, the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 were withdrawn in the Rajya Sabha.
He reiterated concern over the functioning of department-related standing committees and urged leaders to take the meetings of committees with seriousness.
(With inputs from agency)