Crucial for Rajya Sabha to form select committees, ensure bills receive detailed scrutiny: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi [India], Nov 18 (ANI): On the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament on Monday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that it is crucial for the Rajya Sabha to form select committees to ensure that the bills tabled "receive detailed scrutiny they deserve."

"When it comes to deliberation, we start with an advantage. The Rajya Sabha gets more time to deliberate in comparison to the Lok Sabha since we are only half the size, and therefore members get more time to share their insights and criticisms. But we can help our members perform even better through some procedural improvements," Singh said in the Rajya Sabha.

"The House must get access to Bills much earlier than now. Members should get additional resources such as research staff to allow them to study issues in more depth. And nominated members and those with special expertise in particular topics should be allotted more time for their speeches," he added.

Singh said it is important that the Rajya Sabha scrutinises bills more thoroughly in committees, where not only the members can apply their minds, but even opinions of experts and stakeholders can be solicited.

"In the 16th Lok Sabha, only 25 per cent of the Bills introduced were referred to the Committees, much lower than the 71 per cent and 60 per cent in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively. I would assert that regardless of what the other House does, it is crucial for our House to form select committees to ensure that bills receive the detailed scrutiny they deserve. From what I have seen, Rajya Sabha Select Committees have done a commendable job of improving legislation and I would urge that we ensure we follow this practice for all Bills that come before this House," he said.

The former Prime Minister said that while celebrating the 250th Session of the Rajya Sabha, it is "appropriate for us to reflect on whether we have lived up to the vision of the framers of the Constitution.""When there is a criticism of the Rajya Sabha, it is fundamentally a misunderstanding of these historic roles bestowed upon this august chamber. It is our duty to ensure that no law is passed in haste and in an atmosphere of heightened emotions," said Manmohan Singh.

"A crucial differentiating factor between the two Houses is that Article 110 of the Constitution allows the Lok Sabha precedence in matters of the Money Bill. In the recent past, we have seen instances of misuse of the Money Bill provision by the executive, leading to bypassing the Rajya Sabha on crucial legislation of importance, without any deliberation. Those in Treasury benches must ensure that such instances are avoided. It dilutes the stature and importance of our institutions, including the Rajya Sabha," added Singh. (ANI)