New Delhi: When the Lok Sabha was discussing the prevention of torture bill Thursday (May 6) evening, the penultimate day of the budget session, not more than 25 members were present in a house of 543 - a telling testimony of how productive the 2010 budget session was.
Each of the two houses lost 52 percent of crucial question hour time, according to an analysis of the just-concluded session done by PRS Legislative Research, an independent think tank that tracks the functioning of Parliament.
Some 30 percent of the overall business time was lost due to frequent disruptions and protests by MPs.
The frequent disruptions prompted Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to voice her disappointment, warning MPs that such behaviour would gradually render the institution irrelevant, a warning that has been voiced repeatedly even by her predecessor, Somnath Chatterjee, in the previous Lok Sabha.
"It is a matter of great concern that the house did not function on many days due to frequent disruptions," Meira Kumar said.
Her anger was justified.
There were 620 starred questions listed in the budget session, of which 76 could be answered. Thus, on an average, only about 2.37 questions could be answered per day.
Only six bills were passed of the planned 27 in the budget session, making it the least productive among the last eight sessions in terms of legislations, the PRS study said.
In comparison, nine of the 25 planned bills were passed in the 2007 monsoon session, while 12 out of 18 were passed in that year`s winter session.
In the 2008 budget session, of the 29 planned bills nine were passed, while 23 out of 36 could be cleared in the monsoon session of that year. Eleven out of 34 bills were passed in the two budget sessions of 2009 before and after the Lok Sabha elections. And the winter session of that year saw 14 out of 26 bills being cleared.
Among the important legislations that parliament was unable to pass this session is the much-hyped women`s reservation bill that was cleared by the Rajya Sabha but could not find its way into the Lok Sabha.
The analysis of the findings by PRS Legislative Research points out that productive time of the Rajya Sabha was 74 percent and that of the Lok Sabha just 66 percent.
Five bills in the Lok Sabha were passed after a discussion, which lasted not more than 15 minutes.
However, the debate on only one bill - Green Tribunal Bill - in both houses went beyond three hours.