November 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India
Code of conduct for MPs, MLAs adopted
New Delhi, November 25
A 15-page resolution adopted after considerable discussion at the one-day conference on ‘Discipline and Decorum in Parliament and Legislatures of States and Union Territories’ also asks members of Parliament and legislatures to file a financial disclosure statement comprising information about their income, assets and liabilities immediately after their election to the respective legislatures.
The resolution ensures that the elected members would be required to inform of any changes in this, and a register of Members’ Interests would be maintained by all legislatures.
The President, who is in charge of the joint session of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session, has been empowered by the adopted resolution to give directive he may consider necessary to take action against any member interrupting the speech.
These punishments include admonition, reprimand, censure, withdrawal from the House, suspension from the service of the House for a specified period, and any other action considered appropriate by the Presiding Officer of the House.
Earlier speaker after speaker at a one-day conference on ‘Discipline and Decorum in Parliament and State Legislatures’ stressed that there was an urgent need for evolving and implementing a code of conduct and a plan of action for ensuring smooth conduct of proceedings.
Leading the call for stringent time-bound steps for infusing discipline in Parliament and state legislatures were Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi who pointed out that previous initiatives in this direction had failed.
Vice-President Krishan Kant, Lok Sabha Speaker G. M. C. Balayogi, and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptulla, former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar and former Speaker Shivraj Patil also agreed that there were ample rules of procedure but were not being properly observed or implemented.
While almost all speakers were agreed on putting a stop to the practice of members rushing into the well of the house, there were suggestions for more sittings, moving the question hour to the evening hour to allow other issues to be raised in the morning, and even having a sitting on Saturdays.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee stressed the need for a code of conduct for the effective functioning of Parliament and state legislatures, particularly in the present era of coalition governments
The Prime Minister said it was necessary that political competition did not damage parliamentary values, and political differences should be discussed in a manner that accepted traditions were kept up.
Mr Balayogi called upon political parties to ensure discipline among their elected representatives for "effective and meaningful’’ functioning of the legislatures.
The one-day conference is also being attended by the Presiding Officers and Chief Ministers of various states.
Calling for framing of a code of conduct, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, stating that the Congress had always followed the policy of constructive cooperation, blamed governments for causing serious problems in legislatures by describing dissent as “anti-national” and arbitrarily trying to impose their will.
Mrs Gandhi called for radically reorganising the standard sequence of business in parliament. For example, she said Question Hour could be shifted to the evening as this would enable the house, immediately on assembling in the morning, to take up for debate issues of public importance.
The Vice President, who earlier inaugurated the conference, called upon the legislators to ensure that collective and constructive perception were translated into “visible and enduring practices”.
Expressing serious concern at the bedlam created in the House by members, he said “We must remember, that the spectacle of anarchy which we create in Parliament and in the Legislatures, profoundly influences the people, especially our young men and women in particular”.
Expressing concern over the state of affairs in Legislatures across the country, Mr Balayogi said that increasing incidents of disruptions and interruptions in legislatures and indecorous behaviour of legislators tarnished the credibility and image of the institution.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said the Lok Sabha sat for the highest number of 151 days in 1956 which slumped to 77 in 1994 and the lowest of 51 days in 1999.
According to the resolution, the Presiding Officer would have power to suo motu take up for consideration cases of breach of the code that have taken place in the House, or may refer these for examination to the Committee on Ethics or in its absence to them Committee on Privileges for examination and report.
The resolution also calls upon the leaders of political and legislature parties to play a proactive role in maintaining decorum in legislatures by restraining their members from indulging in disorderly conduct inside the House.
The resolution also recommended a mandatory sitting of 110 days for Parliament and 90 and 50 days for legislatures for big and small states and suggested immediate steps for suitable amendments in the Constitution for this purpose.
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