Delhi, other State Legislative meetings dwindle

New Delhi: Data compiled by think tank PRS Legislative Research shows that the State Assemblies of Delhi, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Telangana and Nagaland have been meeting for fewer than 22 days a year, with the number of sittings decreasing over time.
Among States, the Maharashtra Assembly met for the highest number of days (41), followed by West Bengal (40), and Karnataka (39). Notably, in 2023, State legislatures passed more than 500 Bills, and scrutinised their State Budgets, cumulatively worth about `53 lakh crore.

The data shows state assemblies sat for an average of 22 days in 2023, and the average duration of sittings was five hours. In 2023, seven states continued sessions for more than six months without proroguing it, and with long gaps between sittings, it said.

Maharashtra met for the highest number of days(41), followed by West Bengal (40), and Karnataka (39). At least 13 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Telangana met for less than 20 days.

Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Uttarakhand met for less than 10 days. Goa doubled its sittings from 13 in 2022 to 26 in 2023. Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Telangana also met for more days in 2023, as compared to 2022. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab met for fewer days in 2023 as compared to the previous year. Kerala, which met for 61 days in 2021, and 41 days in 2022, only had 29 sitting days in 2023

The Constitution mandates state legislature sessions to be held at least once every six months. Almost 62 per cent of sittings were held during the budget session. This figure was 61 per cent in 2022 and 2021. Gujarat and Punjab held more than 80 per cent of their sittings in the budget session. Tamil Nadu held 72 per cent of its sittings in the budget session, lower than 91 per cent in 2022.

In Delhi, the same session continued from March to December 2023, with 14 sittings. Punjab Assembly session held between March and October 2023 had 10 sittings.

Punjab had approached the Supreme Court in February 2023, stating that the Governor was not summoning the Budget Session. The court stated that the governor was bound by the advice of the state Cabinet.

Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, the assembly session in 2023 continued from January to August. In 2021 and 2022, Rajasthan had only one session, which continued from January to December.

In West Bengal, a session that began in July 2023 was not prorogued till March 2024, and the session held in February to pass the Budget did not start with the customary address by the Governor.

In Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, sessions continued for more than a year. In Sikkim, the session which began in March 2022 was prorogued only in April 2023. In Telangana, one session continued from September 2021 till August 2023, when the term of the House ended.

Despite the low number of sittings, State Assemblies passed more than 500 bills as well as state budgets worth over Rs 53 lakh crore in 2023. In 2023, 44 per cent of all the bills passed in assemblies were passed within a day of introduction. Gujarat, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Puducherry, and Punjab assemblies passed all Bills on the day they were introduced, or the very next day.

Kerala and Meghalaya assemblies on the contrary took more than five days to pass more than 90 per cent of their Bills.

While 59 per cent of bills received the Governor’s assent within a month. In seven states, including Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, all bills received assent within a month.

The states with the highest percentage of bills (passed in 2023) that did not get assent within two months were Assam (80 per cent ), Nagaland (57 per cent ), Jharkhand (50 per cent ) and West Bengal (50 per cent ).

In West Bengal, on average, a bill received assent 92 days after its passing. Other states where it took a comparatively longer time for bills to receive assent are Assam (73 days), Jharkhand (72), Kerala (67), and Himachal Pradesh (55).

“When Assemblies sit for a few days, and meet for only a few hours on these days, the time spent on transacting business is also low. In 2023, five states met for less than 50 hours. Seven states met between 50 and 100 hours, eight states between 100 and 150 hours, and six States for 150 hours or more. In 2023, 44 per cent of all the Bills passed, were passed on the day they were introduced in the Assembly or the very next day. The trend was also similar in the last two years (56 per cent in 2022, and 44 per cent in 2021). In 2023, five States – Gujarat, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Puducherry, and Punjab passed all Bills on the day they were introduced, or the very next day.

These States passed all Bills within a day in 2022 and 2021 as well,” the data say