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Disruption Must Be Treated as Contempt of House: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu was speaking at the second lecture in the memory of former law minister Ram Jethmalani. (File photo/PTI)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu was speaking at the second lecture in the memory of former law minister Ram Jethmalani. (File photo/PTI)

The Rajya Sabha Chairman said disruptors should not be entitled to any privilege.

Disturbed by the recent ruckus in the House where MPs were seen literally coming to blows with each other and on the number of occasions manhandling security personnel the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, has in no uncertain terms said that rising disruptions could amount to contempt of the House and such disruptors should not be entitled to any privilege.
While speaking at the second lecture in the memory of former law minister Ram Jethmalani, Naidu who is also the Rajya Sabha Chairman said: “Is disruption of parliamentary proceedings an MP’s privilege and/or a facet of parliamentary democracy?”
Naidu also added that repeated disruptions only disturb the productivity of the House and infringe on the rights of the individual members especially those who come to Parliament to debate and discuss issues that concern the masses.
Speaking further on the productivity of the House of Elders, the Vice President added that from 1978 till 1996, the House productivity scaled over a hundred per cent but since then there has been a constant decline.
He also added that between 2004 and 2014, the productivity of the Upper House had dipped to 78% but after that, “I don’t need it further coming to about 65%”.
Of the 11 sessions that Naidu presided over, four of them clocked low productivity of 6.80%, 27.30%, 28.90% and 29.55% and during 2018, the Rajya Sabha recorded the lowest ever productivity of 35.75% under the impact of disruptions, he stated.
During the last monsoon session (254th), the Rajya Sabha lost more than 70% of the scheduled time including over 76% of the valuable Question Hour time, the Chairman noted.
Since the Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952, only 10 members were suspended for misconduct inside the House during the first 57 years while 18 were suspended in the last 11 years including 9 in the last one year.
Naidu said: “In conclusion, disruption of the proceedings is a certain negation of the spirit and intention behind the Rules of the House, the code of conduct, the parliamentary etiquette and the scheme of parliamentary privileges, all aimed at effective performance of individual members and the House collectively. Given the consequences, disruption of proceedings clearly amounts to contempt of the House, by the logic of which, disruption can not be claimed as a privilege by the errant members”.
Referring to a report of the Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha, Naidu stressed that “Privileges are enabling rights of members to put across the views and voice the concerns of their constituents (people who elect the members) fearlessly. These could, therefore, be termed as indirect rights of member’s constituents. It is this essence of privileges that needs to be understood.”
Citing the renowned British constitutional theorist Erskine May, Naidu underlined that it is only for effective discharge of the collective functions of the House that the individual privileges are enjoyed by the members.
The Vice President called upon political parties to take this aspect seriously and to make sure that they come up with an amicable solution for at least a few self-imposed regulations to make sure that the temple of democracy is not reduced to a mere political battleground.
Not just in the recently concluded monsoon session but also during the monsoon session of Parliament in 2020, ugly scenes were witnessed in the Upper House thereby resulting in the suspension of nine MPs for the remaining part of the session for trying to intimidate the Chair and snatch papers from his hand.

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first published:September 18, 2021, 19:24 IST