17th LS: Fewest Ever Sittings Among All Full-Term Lok Sabhas, Most Bills Passed in 2 Weeks

Eleven out of the 15 sessions held during this Lok Sabha were adjourned early. As a result, 40 scheduled sittings did not take place (13% of scheduled sittings).

The 17th Lok Sabha held its sessions between June 2019 and February 2024. In these five years, Lok Sabha functioned for 88% of its scheduled time, while Rajya Sabha worked for 73%.

In September 2023, Parliament moved to a new building.

Fewest sittings amongst all full-term Lok Sabhas; Deputy Speaker not elected for the first time

 The 17th Lok Sabha held 274 sittings. Only four previous Lok Sabhas have had fewer sittings, all of which were dissolved before completing the five-year term. The fewest sittings in this Lok Sabha were held in 2020 (33 days), amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

 11 out of the 15 sessions held during this Lok Sabha were adjourned early. As a result, 40 scheduled sittings did not take place (13% of scheduled sittings). The first and last sessions were extended by seven sittings and one sitting respectively.

 Article 93 of the Constitution requires that Lok Sabha elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker ‘as soon as may be’. This is the first time Lok Sabha did not elect the Deputy Speaker for its entire duration.

 During the 17th Lok Sabha, MPs were suspended on 206 instances, across both Houses of Parliament. In Winter Session 2023, 146 MPs were suspended for serious misconduct in the House. Several key legislations like the new Bills to reform criminal laws were passed after MPs were suspended.

179 Bills passed; 58% Bills passed within 2 weeks of introduction

 179 Bills (excluding Finance and Appropriation Bills) were passed. The Ministries of Finance and Home Affairs piloted
the highest number of Bills (15% each), followed by Law and Justice (9%), and Health and Family Welfare (9%).

 Key Bills passed include, the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023, the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, the Appointment of
CEC Bill, 2023, three Labour Codes, the Digital Data Protection Bill, 2023, and three Farm laws (which were later
repealed). Three Bills replacing the IPC, 1860, the CrPC, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 were also passed.

 Most Bills introduced during the term of the 17th LS were passed. 58% of the Bills were passed within two weeks of their introduction. The J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, and the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 were passed within two days of introduction.

 35% of Bills were passed with less than an hour of discussion in Lok Sabha. The corresponding figure for Rajya Sabha was 34%.

 16% of Bills were referred to Committees for detailed scrutiny. This is lower than corresponding figures for the previous three Lok Sabhas. Four Bills were referred to Joint Parliamentary Committees, and one (the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019) to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.

 50% of reports on Bills were presented within 115 days. The Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 took the longest time, meeting 78 times over more than two years. The Committees examining the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019, and the DNA Technology Regulation Bill, 2019 took more than 1.5 years to present their reports.

 On average, Committees held nine meetings to finalise reports on Bills. Apart from the Data Protection Bill, only the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was discussed for at least 15 meetings. The three Bills to reform criminal laws were examined together over 12 meetings.

Less than 10% of Bills passed with recorded voting; four Bills to lapse

 During the 17th Lok Sabha, the majority of Bills were passed without recorded voting. 9% of Bills were passed with at least one instance of recorded voting (includes voting on amendments as well as passing of Bills). This figure was roughly the same during the 16th and 15th Lok Sabhas.

 Four Bills are set to lapse with the dissolution of this Lok Sabha. This is the lowest number among all Lok Sabhas so far. Bills which will lapse include the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The latter two Bills were referred to Committees, and their reports are awaited.

 The Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, introduced in Rajya Sabha is still pending. 19 Bills introduced in Rajya Sabha during previous Lok Sabhas are also pending. The oldest of these is a Constitutional Amendment from 1992.

Few Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions discussed

 Private Members’ business refers to Bills and resolutions introduced by individual MPs. 729 Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) were introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha, which is higher than all previous Lok Sabhas, except the 16th. However, only two PMBs were discussed. During the same period, 705 PMBs were introduced in Rajya Sabha, and 14 were discussed. Till date, only 14 PMBs have been passed and received assent. None have been passed in both Houses since 1970.

 14% of PMBs introduced in Lok Sabha relate to home affairs, followed by law and justice (11%), health (8%), and education (8%). 16% of these Bills have sought to amend the Constitution.

 11 private member resolutions were moved in Lok Sabha, of which three were discussed, and none were adopted. Over the years, fewer private member resolutions have been adopted. Only two have been adopted since 1999.

Few discussions held; no adjournment motions taken up

 About 31% of the total functioning time in Lok Sabha, and 32% in Rajya Sabha was spent on discussions other than legislation and budgets. These include discussions on the President’s Address to Parliament, matters of public importance, and trust votes.

 Special discussions were held on 75 years of Parliament, and India’s achievements in space. Only one half-an-hour discussion was held in Lok Sabha (on beneficiaries of a rural housing scheme). 13 short duration discussions were held in Lok Sabha, covering issues such as climate change, price rise, promotion of sports in India, and the situation in Ukraine. During the same time period, 14 short duration discussions were held in Rajya Sabha.

 In August 2023, a motion of no-confidence was moved and discussed in Lok Sabha. The discussion lasted 20 hours. Adjournment motions may be moved to halt the normal proceedings of the House and discuss an urgent matter. No adjournment motions were taken up either in the 16th or the 17th Lok Sabha. Two such motions were discussed in the 15th and seven in the 14th Lok Sabha.

 Ministers make suo-motu statements in the House regarding matters of public interest. During the 17th Lok Sabha, 28 such statements were made by Ministers in Lok Sabha, as compared to 62 in the 16th, and 98 in the 15th Lok Sabha.

 These statements covered issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, developments at India’s borders in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, and India’s foreign policy.

Question hour functioned for 60% of scheduled time

 During the 17th Lok Sabha, Question Hour functioned for 60% of scheduled time in Lok Sabha and 52% in Rajya Sabha.

 24% of questions listed for oral response were answered by Ministers in the House in Lok Sabha, and 31% in Rajya Sabha.

 Question Hour was cancelled in the Monsoon Session 2020, due to the pandemic. However, members could ask unstarred questions, which received written responses. No questions were allowed in the Special Session 2023.

Lesser time spent discussing the budget; 80% of budget passed without discussion on average

 Over the years, the time spent on budget discussions in Lok Sabha has reduced. The 17th Lok Sabha discussed the annual budget for 35 hours on average (in the Lower House).

 Between 2019 and 2023, on average, about 80% of the budget has been voted on without discussion. In 2023, the entire budget was passed without discussion. This has happened twice in the last decade – in 2018 and 2013.

Committees held around 1,700 meetings

 During the 17th Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Committees (three Financial Committees and 24 Department-related Standing Committees (DRSCs)) held about 1,700 meetings. The average duration of a Committee meeting was about 2 hours.

 Financial Committees examine various aspects of government finances and expenditure. DRSCs scrutinise sector-specific subjects and Ministry-wise budgets, and submit reports on them. Parliamentary Committees also examine the extent to which the government has taken action on previous recommendations of the Committee (called Action Taken Reports or ATRs).

 During the term of the 17th Lok Sabha, the three Financial Committees presented about 180 reports, and the 24 DRSCs presented about 1,100 reports. 19% of reports by DRSCs were on subjects other than Bills and budgets. About 50% of reports presented by Committees were ATRs.

 Between 2020 and 2023, 32% of reports on the proposed expenditure was presented before the budget was passed.

Sources: Bulletins and Resumes of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; Statistical Handbook 2023, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; 60 years of Parliament, compilations of work done by various Lok Sabhas, Lok Sabha Secretariat; Rajya Sabha at A Glance, Rajya Sabha Statistical Information 1952-2018, Rajya Sabha Secretariat; Websites of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; PRS.