Voicing concern over repeated disruptions in parliamentary proceedings, President Pranab Mukherjee today lamented that time devoted towards discussing legislations was declining and suggested giving more time for quality debates.
"... In the recent past, there is an increasing tendency to resort to disruption as a means of parliamentary intervention. It neither serves any purpose nor provides an effective method to get point of view across to the other side," he said.
The President was addressing the Uttar Pradesh legislators at a function to mark the 125th anniversary of the state Legislature.
Terming as "unfortunate" the gradual decline in time devoted by legislators towards bills, Mukherjee said the elected representatives should ensure that "the content and quality of debates are of high order befitting their status as people's representatives."
He said unless legislation is preceded by adequate discussion and scrutiny, it may not result in delivering the desired results or meeting its objectives.
During the 14th Lok Sabha, Parliament sat for over 1,900 hours and 416 hours were wasted due to disruptions, Mukherjee said, adding disruption is denial of right of other members and was negation of parliamentary procedure.
Mukherjee, who was the Leader of the Lok Sabha from 2004-2012, said he had became unpopular among his colleagues when he pointed that they did not turn up in Parliament or did not cast their votes as per the whip.
He said such acts were dereliction of duty.
"We make rules. If the rules are antique, we can change them. Nothing prevents us from doing that. But once the rules are made they have to be followed," he said.
Mukherjee said legislators will have to think how much time is spent on budget for legislation and issues of complicated administrative matters.
"Legislatures must be responsive not only to the changing needs of society but also to the imperative of smooth running of the government so that wheels of our democracy function continually," he said.
He said for an expeditious transaction of business, it is imperative to maintain discipline. "Dissent is a recognised democratic expression, but its misuse or abuse has more often than not led to loss of valuable time that could have been otherwise utilised productively for fruitful debate and discussion," the President observed.
In a word of caution to legislators, he said being a representative of people carries great responsibility and they should be sensitive and responsive to their needs.
"Playing multiple roles and competing demands will never be easy," he said.
Mukherjee, a former Finance Minister, also said that financial bills should be thoroughly scrutinised before being passed.
The President made his initial observations in Hindi and later spoke in English.
"People say I am a scholar but one thing I lack is command over Hindi," he quipped before moving on to make remainder of his speech in English.
Copies of his speech were circulated on the occasion.
A postal stamp to mark the occasion was also released in the presence of Communications Minister Kapil Sibal.
Union Minister of Communication Kapil Sibal today said at the celebrations to mark the completion of 125 years of Uttar Pradesh Legislature that there were serious challenges before the country as a democracy, and expectations of the people had changed over time.
After 65 years of independence many things had been done, but a lot was still to be done, he said.
He referred to the UP assembly as a "sangam" which had given a number of national leaders including former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai and Chaudhary Charan Singh, and was hopeful that solutions to problems would be worked out from the institution.
On the occasion, SP supremo and former UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav praised President Pranab Mukherjee for his role as a Parliamentarian and Union Minister.
He requested the President to use his august office for giving priority to the farmers by the Centre and for special assistance to the state, whose progress would help take the country forward.
Inequality, poverty and unemployment were the major challenges before the country, he said.
Security of the border was also a big challenge and he hoped that the President would discuss the issue with the leaders of all defence wings and work out a solution.
Governor B L Joshi, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohd Azam Khan and Leader of the Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya also welcomed the President.
Speakers of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Haryana state assemblies were also present on the occasion, besides former CMs N D Tiwari, Rajnath Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan and Lok Sabha MP from Lucknow Lalji Tandon.