Pandemic, lockdown affected sittings of legislatures in 2020, says report

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New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) Amid the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown, legislatures of 19 states met for an average of 18 days last year, a legislative think tank has said.

Between 2016 and 2019, these states, for which the data was available, had met for an average of 29 days a year. In 2020, Karnataka met for the highest 31 days, followed by Rajasthan 29 days, and Himachal Pradesh 25 days. Kerala dropped from an average of 53 days in the previous four years to meet for just 20 days in 2020, PRS Legislative Research said in its annual report on state laws.

It noted that Parliament met for 33 days in 2020. After the easing of lockdown conditions last year, state legislatures resumed their meetings. Some legislatures used alternative means to enable meetings.

In Andhra Pradesh, the governor's address was delivered through video conferencing. Tamil Nadu held its monsoon session in an auditorium and Puducherry legislators met under a neem tree to pass the budget, the document observed.

In 2020, states passed an average of 22 Bills (excluding Appropriation Bills).

Karnataka passed 61 Bills, the highest in the country. The lowest was Delhi Assembly, which passed only one Bill, followed by West Bengal and Kerala, which passed two and three Bills respectively, the PRS Legislative Research report stated.

Citing data from 19 states, the report said that on average, the assemblies issued 14 ordinances over the last year. 'This number was skewed by Kerala which promulgated 81 ordinances. Nearly half of these 81 ordinances were ones that were re-promulgated -- the same ordinance was issued again after an intervening session,' it noted.

The report also noted that state legislatures passed most Bills without detailed scrutiny. 'In 2020, 59 per cent of the Bills were passed on the same day that they were introduced in the legislature. A further 14 per cent were passed within a day of being introduced. Only nine per cent of the Bills were passed more than five days after introduction (some of these were referred to a committee for further examination),' it said.

The states that passed all the Bills on the same day as their introduction include Punjab (26), Bihar (13), Jharkhand (eight) and Madhya Pradesh (five). Some states like Haryana (34 out of 35 Bills) and Uttar Pradesh (32 out of 37 Bills) passed most of their Bills on the same day as their introduction, the report said.

States like Karnataka and Rajasthan passed a majority of their Bills two or more days after their introduction in the legislature. In both states, 37 per cent of Bills had a gap of at least five days between their introduction and passing, the PRS Legislative Research report noted. PTI NAB NSD

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