New Delhi, July 26
After spending crores on campaigning and elections, the majority of state Assemblies in the country appear to be not even comply with the minimum requirement of meetings per year to discuss matters for which members have been elected for.
In fact, majority of Bills passed by the Assemblies “saw little legislative scrutiny as almost half of them were passed within a day of their introduction,” according to a PRS report analysing the legislative work done by state Assemblies in 2021.
In 2021, 29 state Assemblies met for an average of just 21 days. As many as 17 states met for less than 20 days and of them, five for less than 10 days. States with the highest average of assembly sittings in a year are Kerala (61), Odisha (43) and Karnataka (40). States with fewer days include Tripura (11), Punjab (14), Haryana (14), Uttarakhand (14), and Delhi (16), as per the second edition of the PRS ‘Annual Review of State Laws’ by researchers Mridhula Raghavan, Niranjana Menon, Saket Surya.
In 2021, state Assemblies passed more than 500 Bills covering a variety of subjects such as regulating higher education, online gaming, religious conversions, and preservation of cattle.
However, “most of these Bills saw little legislative scrutiny as almost half of the Bills were passed within a day of their introduction”. Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab, and Bihar are among the eight states which passed all Bills on the same day of their introduction.
“In 2021, as many as 17 states met for less than 20 days and of these five for less than 10 days in 2021. The average is boosted by three states – Kerala (61), Odisha (43), and Karnataka (40) which met for 40 days or more,” the PRS report states.
Smaller Assemblies with less than 70 members sat for 14 days on average while larger Assemblies (70 members or more) met for 24 days on average.
Between 2016 and 2021, 23 state assemblies met for an average of 25 days.
Low number of sitting days impacts legislative scrutiny of Bills, budgets, and other issues.
In 2020, the average sitting days dipped to 17, which may be due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns.
During this period, Kerala had the highest number of sitting days at 49 days.
In the last two decades (1997-2019), the Kerala Assembly has met for an average of 49 days a year. In 2021, the Assembly sat for 61 days, the highest in the last 15 years.
According to the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), state legislatures with less than 70 members should meet for at least 50 days a year and the rest for at least 90 days.
Ordinances promulgated: Kerala holds the record for issuing the maximum number of ordinances at 144 followed by Assam and Maharashtra at 20 and 15, respectively.
Time taken to pass Bills: In 2021, 44% of Bills were passed by 28 Assemblies within a day of their introduction. Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab, and Bihar are among the eight states which passed all Bills on the same day as their introduction.
Subject of State Laws: Most popular subject was education with 21% of the laws followed by taxation (12%), and urban governance (10%) as per the PRS.
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