The budget session of the Uttarakhand Assembly which ended on Thursday in only four days has once again exposed the unwillingness and lack of constitutional awareness of the legislators. The session was originally planned for six days but was curtailed to only four day. It appeared that neither the treasury benches nor the opposition were interested in running the session. During the budget session a total of 12 bills and one ordinance, the Uttarakhand Competitive Examinations (measures for control and prevention of unfair means in recruitment) were presented in the house. However all the bills were passed without discussion in the session. Similarly the department wise budgets were also passed without discussions as no cut motion was moved by the opposition members on them. It has become a practice that the opposition members stage a walk out on some issue and the budget is passed without any discussion.
It is pertinent to mention here that the rules of the procedure and conduct of business in Uttarakhand legislative Assembly' mandates that at least 60 sittings of the legislature should be held in a year. But in Uttarakhand only 15 to 18 sittings usually take place in a year which is less than one third of the minimum required sittings. The rules however give overriding power to the Assembly speaker on the functioning of the house. Similarly the duration and functioning of the house is decided by the business advisory committee (BAC) and these two factors have diluted the 60 day mandate.
The business of the house is decided by the government and in Uttarakhand the successive governments have failed to ensure enough business for the house during all these years.
When contacted by The Pioneer the leader of opposition (LoP) Yashpal Arya said that the State government is not interested in running the assembly and it is not ready for debate in the house. He claimed that in the meeting of the BAC the business of only two days was decided and on 14 March all the Congress MLAs were suspended due to which no Congress member was able to attend the BAC meeting on the day. He added that the previous session was also truncated and ended in only two days instead of five days as planned earlier.
The BJP MLA from Vikasnagar Munna Singh Chauhan said that quality debates should be held in the Assembly as a huge amount of money is spent on the proceedings. He however added that constructive debates should be held in the house so that the administration receives feedback about government programmes.
Constitutional expert Jagdish Chandra said that though there is a mandate that there should be at least 60 sittings of the Assembly in a year but the house is the master of its own business. He said that budget session is the most important session of the Assembly as it gives opportunity to the members to express their opinion during vote of thanks on the address of the governor and debates on cut motion on budget apart from question hour. Chandra said that the debates in the assembly are necessary to strengthen democracy.