Decreasing number of sittings of legislatures and lack of quality discussion are matters of concern: Om Birla

Shimla: Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the 82nd All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, today.

Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla; Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha Shri Harivansh; Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Shri Jairam Thakur; Speaker of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Shri Vipin Singh Parmar and other dignitaries also graced the Inaugural Ceremony.

Addressing the delegates, Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla, said that the objective of the legislative institutions is to ensure active participation of the people and their representatives towards making progressive legislations so that positive socio-economic changes can be brought to the lives of the people.

Shri Birla said that at the AIPOC, there has been consistent discussions on issues related to maintaining an ideal balance between the three organs of the State in their respective roles, making Legislative Bodies more efficient and effective, changing the Rules and Procedures of Legislative Bodies so that these bodies emerge as effective platforms for fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people, and democracy is strengthened.

Expressing concern over the decreasing number of sittings of the Legislatures and lack of quality discussion in the legislatures and referring to Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Shri Birla called upon the Legislative Bodies to frame a model document with a commitment so that when country will celebrate one hundred years of independence, there will be uniformity in the Rules and Procedures of all Legislatures across the nation. Further, Shri Birla stressed that there is a need to review the working of the Legislatures on the occasion of the completion of 100 years of the AIPOC. He emphasized on making the Legislative Bodies stronger to ensure better accountability of the Executive. This will ensure widespread and active participation of the people in democracy and the role of public representatives will become more accountable and transparent. Shri Birla highlighted that AIPOC will deliberate on these issues and will take a few decisive resolutions so that the dignity and prestige of the Legislative Bodies can be further enhanced.

Shri Birla also informed that during the two-day Conference, the Presiding Officers would review the decisions taken in the last one hundred years and the ways and means for their implementation. Shri Birla further said that the decisions taken in this Conference would play an important role in making the country’s democracy stronger and more resilient.

On this occasion, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Shri Harivansh, said that 21st century belongs to technology and artificial intelligence. Legislatures should cope with the new realities and discuss on contemporary issues like virtual currencies, climate change and clean energy. If institutional changes are needed in this, they should be done, said Deputy Chairman. Emphasizing on the need for dynamic legislatures, he urged the parliamentarians and legislatures to explore ways and means to make legislative bodies in tune with the contemporary realities and future goals. He also emphasized on repealing the redundant laws and setting limits of new laws. Speaking on House disruptions, Shri Harivansh urged the parliamentarians for collective efforts for smooth functioning of legislatures.

Thanking Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla for holding the 82nd Conference at Shimla in the centenary year of the All India Presiding Officers’ Conference, Speaker of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, Shri Vipin Singh Parmar, said that this will be a landmark for the Shimla’s holy land. He recalled that this Conference was started in Shimla in 1921 and after that important topics were discussed here on many occasions. Shri Parmar reminded that important resolutions like Autonomous Legislative Secretariat and voting rights for women were taken during this Conference in Shimla itself. He stressed that the opportune time has come for considering to set up of National e-Vidhan and e-Governance Academy at the center of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha at Dharamsala.

Referring to the e-vidhan and e-governance initiatives in the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Jai Ram Thakur, said that the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha has enacted several important socio-economic legislations which have immensely benefited the people. He said that Himachal Pradesh had limited resources at the time of its inception but with the passage of time Himachal Pradesh has made unprecedented progress in all walks of life. The Chief Minister thanked Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla, for choosing Shimla for the centenary year Conference of AIPOC. Informing that this year also marks the 50th year of the foundation of Himachal Pradesh, the Chief Minister said that all-round efforts are being made to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people of the State. Referring to the State’s efforts to deal with the Covid pandemic, Shri Thakur said that the target of 100% vaccination has been achieved in the State and 75% of the population have been given second dose of vaccination.

In his address, Leader of the Opposition in Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Shri Mukesh Agnihotri, said that after Shri Vitthalbhai Patel took over the presidency of this conference in 1925, many important resolutions have been taken which include resolution for India’s independence and women’s voting rights. He said that the Presiding Officers have an important role to play in the proper functioning of the House and now the time has come to strengthen the position of the Chair and make efforts that the precious time of the House can be utlised effectively. He said that with the passage of time many traditions related to the Presiding Officer had flourished but it is also true that many such traditions have declined. Such issues should also be discussed in the Conference. Shri Agnihotri said that the review of the law relating to defection is an important topic before this Conference as there has been a lot of scope for interference from the judiciary in this area. He also emphasized that the rationalization of the powers of the Presiding Officers should also be discussed so as to enhance the dignity of the Chair.

Deputy Speaker of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, Shri  Hans Raj, delivered the Vote of Thanks.

The 82nd All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) in Shimla, Himanchal Pradesh is being held to commemorate the centennial year of the Conference which started in 1921 in Shimla.

On the sidelines of the Conference, an exhibition on “Journey of All India Presiding Officers’ Conference since 1921 to 2021” has been organized by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. The Exhibition portrays the one hundred year history of Presiding Officers Conferences.