Lok Sabha Speaker writes to MPs on Parliament disruptions

New Delhi: Ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament slated to begin July 18, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has expressed concern over the frequent disruptions of Parliament, saying divergence of opinion and dissent should be within the established norms.

In the letter addressed to MPs, released to the media on Tuesday, Mahajan, noting the tenure of the 16th Lok Sabha has entered into its final year and only three sessions were left, asked if parties can justify their conduct by advancing the argument of improper conduct and interruption of the business of the House by other parties in the past.

He remarks come in the wake of the budget session of Parliament, which ended in April, being least productive since 2000 with both houses seeing repeated disruptions.

“If we accept this argument, then the cycle of interruptions will continue endlessly and such tendency will never be checked,” she said.

Holding that discussion, debate, divergence of opinion and dissent were integral part of functioning of any democratic system, she said: “Constructive opposition and lively debates are the lifeline of democracy, but you will also agree that the discussion, divergence of opinion and dissent should be within the well established parameters and accepted norms of Parliamentary dignity and decorum so that people may continue to have abiding faith in democracy and democratic institutions.

“It is for this purpose that we have given ourselves the rules for conduct of business in the House which have evolved over the years. Is it not our moral responsibility to ensure that these rules are followed in letter and spirit?”

The Speaker said that during her recent foreign visits, foreign dignitaries had also expressed their disappointment over the constant disruptions in the House.

She said it was the collective responsibility of the members to protect the prestige and sanctity of Parliament.

Asked about Mahajan’s letter, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the party MPs will certainly strive imbibe the spirit of her words but the government should also do so.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said the Speaker has expressed her concern and it all depends on the leaders of respective political parties to see that the House runs.

“Because in this Lok Sabha, we have hardly two sessions plus. There are many people-centric issues that needs to be raised. Therefore onus lies with all political party leaders for smooth functioning of the House,” he said, adding that while the Speaker has made an attempt, there should also be a thrust from the government side for smooth running of the parliament.