Collective efforts needed to ensure discipline and decorum in democratic institutions: Speaker Om Birla

New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla inaugurated the 81st All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) at Parliament House Annexe, today. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Birla said that the credibility of legislatures is linked to the conduct and behavior of their members and that is why the members are expected to observe the highest standards of discipline and decorum, both inside and outside the legislatures. Shri Birla expressed his anguish that incidents of unparliamentary behavior of public representatives have increased in recent years, which have tarnished the image of the democratic institutions.

At the outset President of IPU Mr. Duarte Pacheco greeted everyone on the occasion of International Day of Democracy. He said that Indian democracy is inclusive and an example for the world he also congratulated India for being the world’s largest democracy.

President of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Mr. Duarte Pacheco, President of the National Council of Austria Mr.Wolfgang Sobotka, Speaker of Parliament of Guyana Mr. Manzoor Nadir, Speaker of Peoples’ Majlis of Maldives Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, Speaker of State Great Hural of Mongolia Mr. Gombojavyn Zandanshatar, Speaker of National Assembly of Namibia Prof. Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of Parliament of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe Mr. Jacob Francis Mudenda, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mauritius Mr. Nazurally Mohammud Zahid graced the occasion and shared their views at the Conference. Deputy Speaker of National Assembly of Bhutan, Members of Parliament from Kenya, and Members of Parliament from Russia, among other foreign dignitaries were also present.

Mr. Wolfgang Sobotka in his address said that parliaments play a crucial role in strengthening democracy. Mr. Manzoor Nadir praised India for its diversity and dynamism. Mr. Nasheed called India a Shining example of democracy in the region and spoke about the importance of strengthening democracy. He added that in recent times, undemocratic forces have captured power in Afghanistan through violence, which is a setback for the entire region of South Asia. He added that Human Rights, Democracy, Freedom etc are universal values which must be safeguarded by all. He added that parliaments play a critical role in upholding democracy. Mr. Abeywardena said that transparency and accountability are the cornerstone of democracy. Mr. Mudenda invoked Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and said that we must walk on the path shown by Dr. Ambedkar, he also added that PM Modi said that “good governance cannot remain a mere philosophy.” It should put people at the centre of development. He also said that the globally the pandemic vaccination process must adhere to principles to democracy and Human Rights.

Shri Birla noted that being an elected public representative, a member has certain privileges and these privileges, which come with responsibilities, are meant for performing their duties as parliamentarians in an effective manner and without any hindrance. Shri Birla called for introspection by members, individually and collectively, about their conduct, discipline and decorum, as public representatives.

Further noting that smooth functioning of legislatures helps in strengthening democracy, Shri Birla suggested that legislatures should function effectively in public interest, in accordance with the rules and conventions, so that people’s hopes and aspirations are fulfilled and their trust on democratic institutions is enhanced.

Emphasizing on maintaining discipline and decorum in Parliament and other Legislatures, Shri Birla reminded that different Conferences were organized on this issue in the years 1992, 1997 and 2001. He stressed that collective and coordinated efforts are required by the Presiding Officers, Leaders of all parties to ensure the implementation of the resolutions and decisions taken in those Conferences, in public interest. Lok Sabha Speaker suggested that agenda for the next Conference in the year 2022 should be, “Discipline and decorum in democratic institutions and ensuring transparency and accountability in these institutions.”

Shri Birla further suggested that a mega Conference of MPs and MLAs may be organized in the country on completion of 75 years of independence. Also, on the occasion of completion of 75 years of independence, Conferences of present and former MPs and MLAs above 75 years of age may be organized in their respective states, Shri Birla suggested.

On this occasion, Lok Sabha Speaker also informed that the centenary year of Public Accounts Committee will be celebrated on next 4-5 December, 2021. Present and former Presiding Officers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Speakers of State Legislatures, Chairpersons of Public Accounts Committees of Parliament and Legislatures of all States, Presiding Officers of Parliaments of Commonwealth countries and other dignitaries are being invited for the special event.

Shri Birla put forth suggestions that a programme on “Role of women and young MPs and MLAs in strengthening democratic institutions” may be organized. Similarly, Conferences of democratic institutions at different levels, including village panchayats and urban bodies may also be organized in the respective States. Action plan for strengthening democratic institutions and ensuring accountability of the Executive can be discussed in such Conferences.

Shri Harivansh, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies of India participated in the Conference. Secretaries -General of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Shri Utpal Kumar Singh and Dr. P.P.K. Ramacharyulu were also present.

The Presiding Officers present adopted the following resolution:

‘Let us take a pledge on this historic occasion that together we will strengthen Indian democracy, make our democratic institutions more effective, work to strengthen democracy in the country and abroad and we will transform our political democracy into economic and social democracy. ‘