PM Modi, LS Speaker Om Birla pitch One Nation, One Legislative platform; all you need to know

After speaking about One Nation One Election — the idea of simultaneous polls for Central and State governments, and One Nation One Law, the...

After speaking about One Nation One Election — the idea of simultaneous polls for Central and State governments, and One Nation One Law, the ever-elusive and heavily contended idea to homogenise civil laws in India — the Centre has now come up with the idea of One Nation and One Legislative platform.

The idea was first mooted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at the centenary year celebrations of the All India Presiding Officers' Conference in Shimla, on Wednesday.

Although no formal proposal yet exists in the public domain, the fact that the idea was espoused by the Prime Minister in his address immediately after, gives the hint that an official draft may not be too far away.

Here is what we know so far:

What's One Nation One Election?

These are unspecified sets of standardised legislative rules and procedures that will be made applicable to not just the Parliament but legislative Assemblies in states and Union Territories.

The argument cited is that a fixed set of rules to regulate all legislating bodies across the nation will boost productivity and accountability.

A model document should be prepared for uniformity of laws and procedures in all legislative bodies, he said.

"With a collective resolve, we should prepare such a model document that when 100 years of our independence are completed, there should be uniformity in the rules and procedures of all the legislatures, and the working of the legislative bodies should be according to the hopes and aspirations of the people," Birla said.

"There are different sets of rules in different state Assemblies. In a democratic country, there should be one set of uniform rules for legislative business across the country. One nation, one uniform set of rules and procedures for legislative bodies," he added.

Adding on to this, Prime Minister Modi suggested introducing the concept of “one nation, one legislative portal” –a technology-driven platform to allow all the state assemblies and democratic entities to be connected with one another. He also spoke about fixing a few days in the calendar of the business for “healthy debates” in the Houses.

Noting that lawmakers are associated mostly with politics, Modi proposed that a few days in a year be demarcated in legislatures for them to tell the country about their experiences of working with the society and added that it would be a learning exercise for all.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, also present on the occasion, suggested that a sunset clause should be added in the laws when they are being introduced in the legislature as draft regulation so that the legislature doesn't have to waste time on archaic and unwieldy regulations that no longer seem relevant.

What's the need for this?

A lot was left in Parliamentary democracy to decorum and discipline and is not specified in written rules. For example, allowing members an uninterrupted maiden speech is an unwritten rule. And nobody thought of breaking it for decades until somebody did. The oath-taking ceremony of a new House is a solemn occasion where shouting and sloganeering, although no rules barred it, was unimaginable once upon a time. Likewise, the Speaker's chair is a neutral institution; it is customary for them to refrain from politicking till the time they occupy the position.

But as pointed out by Himachal Pradesh's Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, this custom was already being trampled.

Agnihotri said there was a time when Speakers of the legislative Assemblies used to stay away from political activities and never attended party functions to uphold the dignity of their constitutional position. But, now this practice is not being followed in its letter and spirit.

“There is no doubt that presiding officers or Speakers come from the political parties. But, it's the beauty of the democracy in India that presiding officers have no party. They conduct the House proceedings as per parliamentary norms, practices and sometimes by their own conscience. There is a need to look into their roles. This is the need of the hour," Agnihotri was quoted as saying by Outlook.

The anti-defection law, Agnihotri mentioned, also has several lacunas and such cases often go to the courts, bringing a bad name to the parliamentary democracy.

Lok Sabha Speaker Birla highlighted that the state legislatures all adhere to different sets of rules to regulate the process of law-making. This means that there is usually confusion in times of a dispute. It also means that not all laws and regulations are really helpful as per changing times.

Birla expressed concern about the decrease in the sittings of the legislatures and discussions over bills and said some decisive steps are needed to be taken by consulting all political parties.

Calling for reviewing the rules and procedures, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh cited the case of assurances given by the executive pending for about three decades in various legislative bodies and termed them as empty promises. He also questioned whether such provisions are required in the legislative bodies which don't have legal backing.

'Nobody should be bulldozed'

Pitching for the changes, Speaker Birla, however, added a caveat.

He said that One Nation One Legislature would make "legislatures more productive and accountable to the people." However, no one would be "bulldozed", he added.

Talking about legislative proceedings, Birla said, "The decreasing number of meetings of the legislatures and the lack of discussion at the time of making laws is also a matter of concern for us. Therefore some decisive steps need to be taken after consulting all political parties so that the dignity and the prestige of the law-making bodies can be enhanced further."

Pitching for changes in rules and procedures of legislative bodies, Birla said changes should be brought in the functioning of law-making bodies "so that they can be made the carriers of fulfilling the hopes and expectations of the people, and democracy in the country becomes stronger".

Underlining that the broader objective of law-making bodies should be to protect the rights of the people, Birla said the role of public representatives should be strong, accountable and transparent.

With inputs from PTI

 

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India World News: PM Modi, LS Speaker Om Birla pitch One Nation, One Legislative platform; all you need to know
PM Modi, LS Speaker Om Birla pitch One Nation, One Legislative platform; all you need to know
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