Rajyasabha: Productivity Downfall?

Why in news?

Rajya Sabha Chairman recently presented a “report to the people”, highlighting the below-par performance of the Upper House and need to hold legislatures accountable.

Highlights of report

  • Since June 2014, the Rajya Sabha has held 18 sessions and 329 sittings and passed 154 Bills — which comes to less than one Bill in two sittings.
  • The legislative output of the Rajya Sabha has been In 2009-2014, it cleared 188 Bills and in 2004-09 it cleared 251 Bills.
  • Since 2014, the Upper House has been unable to function for 40% of its allotted time due to
  • Out of 48 hours in the Budget session, the house functioned only for eight

Relevance of Rajya Sabha

Reasons for low productivity of Rajya Sabha

  • Political Tussle between the government and opposition leads to stalling of its functioning, adjournments
  • Lack of consensus: It also reflects that there is lack of consensus on many issues and government is not able to take opposition in confidence on such
  • Politicization of Rajya Sabha deviating it from being a serious deliberative body providing important insights on matters of public
  • Permanent House: Rajya Sabha is never Hence it provides the nation leadership and stability in the times when Lok Sabha is not constituted. It also acts as a check against any abrupt changes in the composition of the Lower House.
  • Guard against populist measures: While Lok Sabha may work under populist compulsions; Rajya being the permanent and less political house can take a deeper and non-populist look at bills and issues at It also provides a second opinion on crucial issues of national interest.
  • Representation of States: Rajya Sabha has representatives from State, hence interests of states are reflected and guarded by the Rajya
  • Space for Experts: Rajya Sabha provides a space for experts in their fields to voice their opinion on crucial legislative
  • Sharing the legislative burden: Legislatures, the world over, are grappling with increasing demand to legislate on newer The Upper House thus becomes much more useful in sharing the burden of the Lower House.

Criticism of Rajya Sabha

  • Reduced Significance: On the matters of importance like the money bill and the budget, Rajya Sabha has little say which reduces its significance compared to Lok
  • Chamber for political end seekers: The Upper House has become a ground for party fund-raisers, those who lost in elections, crony capitalists, journalists, retired CEOs and civil
  • Hindrance to speedy Legislation: Given the competitive politics today, Rajya Sabha is also used by opposition parties to hinder speedy legislation, which is detrimental to the growth of the
  • Frequent disruptions in recent times is also undermining the deliberative and accountability functions of the upper

Way forward

  • Legislative Measures: Parliament (Enhancement of Productivity) Bill, 2017 should be taken up which seeks to fix the minimum number of days (100 days for Rajya Sabha) in which parliament shall be in
    • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) has also recommended the minimum number of working days to be 120 and 100 respectively for Lok sabha and Rajya
  • Performance related pay: There is also a call for linking salaries of legislators to their performance and attendance in Rajya

Stricter Rules of Procedure and conduct of business to deal with the unruly behavior – shouting, sloganeering of certain members so that time of the Rajya Sabha is not

  • Reviewing the Anti-Defection Law as it gives sweeping powers to the political If the party decides to not let parliament function then MPs cannot deviate from their decision even if they think differently.
  • Sustained Evaluation of performance of our parliament and the MPs on regular intervals can be undertaken by Citizen’s pressure groups to put pressure on MPs to perform and let parliament do its designated