Wednesday, February 17, 2010




From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The 73-year old Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari coming from the diplomatic cadre had no parliamentary experience but he has solved, in less than 30 months as the Rajya Sabha Chairman, the malady of the parliamentary questions going unanswered despite listed on agenda for oral replies that remained unsolved all these decades.

Even if a MP whose question is listed for oral answer during the question hour abstains, the minister will have to answer and three MPs will be allowed to ask the supplementaries, says amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business notified for coming into effect from February 22 when Parliament's budget session begins.

Ansari says the new rule will make both the minister and members of Parliament "accountable." They can't make the usual deal of the MP abstaining from the House and thus saving the minister from the inconvenient queries that other MPs may fire at him during the Question Hour.

The question used to be skipped under the present rule as is the practice also in the Lok Sabha and all state legislatures and thus other MPs coming prepared to corner the minister cannot ask supplementaries.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman pursued this racket and got the rules amended by the House on December 15 to put an end to it. The new rules were notified on Wednesday through a circular to all MPs

The new rules will also put an end to the racket of "cash for query" as the MPs taking money to abstain for the pass-over of their question will make no difference as the question has to be answered once it comes on the list. 

The rules also ensure that a MP cannot have more than one question listed as a starred question for answer in the House to equal opportunity to other MPs. Besides the concerned MP allowed to ask two supplementary questions, only three other members will be allowed to put the supplementaries. This will remedy the usual ill of the members dragging on one question so long that there is hardly any time left for answers to other questions on the agenda.

Also, each question included in the list for oral answer will be in the name of only one MP that will be decided through a ballot. If there are more than one questions by a MP fall in the list, he will have to make the choice on which question is included for oral answer while other questions will be shifted to the list of questions for only written answers.

The notification details amendments in the rules 43 and 54 in Chapter VII on question hour. The specific rule on the absent MPs says: "If on a question being called it is not put or the Member in whose name it stands is absent, the Chairman shall direct that the answer to it be given."


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