Continuing our regular coverage of India’s parliamentary sessions, Mandira Kala assesses the performance of the Lok Sabha in the past five years compared with the two previous terms

The 2019 budget session of India’s parliament concluded in February, marking the end of the five-year term of the 16th Lok Sabha. In this term, the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the bicameral legislature, witnessed a single-party majority for the first time since 1989.

This article examines the productivity of the two houses of the parliament during the past five years, and the time spent by them on core functions such as making laws, holding the government accountable, and discussing important issues. It also discusses the legislative businesses transacted, the role of parliamentary committees, and the making of laws through ordinances, overlooking the role of parliament as an institution.

The Lok Sabha worked for the second-lowest number of hours when compared with other full-term Lok Sabhas since 1952. It lost 16% of its scheduled time to disruptions, which is better than the previous Lok Sabha (37%) but worse than the 14th Lok Sabha (13%).

While both houses of parliament performed similarly during the previous two terms, the Rajya Sabha’s (upper house) productivity was significantly less this time. It lost 36% of its scheduled time to disruptions, higher than the Lok Sabha’s 16%. This is also reflected in the functioning of the question hour, the time reserved for the government’s replies to questions asked by members. Question hour worked for 41% of its scheduled time in the Rajya Sabha, whereas the figure for the Lok Sabha was higher at 67%.

Data on the time spent by both the houses on their various functions suggest that the Lok Sabha spent a larger proportion of its time (29%) on legislative business, compared with the Rajya Sabha (23%). The Rajya Sabha spent more of its time (44%) on non-legislative business, which includes discussion on issues of public importance raised by the opposition, and other urgent matters raised by members in the house. For the Lok Sabha, this figure was lower at 34%.

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