Disruptions of proceedings contempt of House: Vice President Naidu

New Delhi: In a first of its kind observation by any presiding officer of the legislatures in the country and in the context of rising disruptions, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday unequivocally held that disruptions of proceedings amount to contempt of the House and disruptors can’t claim it as their privilege to do so.

Delivering the second Ram Jethmalani Memorial Lecture on “Is disruption of parliamentary proceedings an MP’s privilege and/or a facet of parliamentary democracy?” Naidu spoke at length on the intentions of various rules and other provisions requiring high standards of behaviour of MPs in the House and the scheme of privileges and argued that disruptions negate the objective of effective performance by individual members and of the House collectively.

Speaking on disruptions in the Parliament, Naidu informed that the productivity of Rajya Sabha is being quantified since 1978 and during the first 19 years till 1996, the productivity of the House has been over 100% and has begun to decline since then. While the House clocked annual productivity of over 100% during 16 of these 19 years, it was so only in two years in 1998 and 2009 during the next 24 years and not even once in the last 12 years.

The Chairman further said that the productivity of Rajya Sabha during 2004-14 has been about 78% and it declined to about 65% since then. Of the 11 sessions that Shri Naidu presided over, four of them clocked low productivity of 6.80%, 27.30%, 28.90% and 29.55% and during the year 2018, the Rajya Sabha recorded the lowest ever productivity of 35.75% under the impact of disruptions, he stated.

During the last monsoon session (254th), the Rajya Sabha lost more than 70% of the scheduled time including over 76% of the valuable Question Hour time, the Chairman noted.

Since the Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952, only 10 members were suspended for misconduct inside the House during the first 57 years while 18 were also suspended in the last 11 years including 9 in the last one year.

Giving this information, Naidu noted that these suspensions do not reflect the gravity of the situation since such actions were not taken on all occasions for various reasons.

Seeking to answer in the negative, if disruption can be claimed as a privilege by MPs, Chairman Naidu argued that the Rules of the House, the Code of Conduct, the detailed Parliamentary Etiquette to be complied with by the Members of Rajya Sabha were clearly aimed at ensuring a high standard of behavior of members inside the House befitting the solemnity of proceedings of the House while the scheme of privileges granted to the Members are intended to enable effective performance of the Members individually and of the House collectively.

He asserted that accordingly, disruptions negate the principle of effective functioning of the House besides being against the wishes of the people.