The four-day monsoon session of the Madhya Pradesh assembly was reduced to two days this year, with just about two hours of business transacted, during which six bills and the supplementary budget were passed. Some 28 proposals to make or amend laws were placed in the house, out of which over 19 proposals were passed without any discussion.
One of the laws that was passed amid much noise and protest by the opposition was the Madhya Pradesh Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which allowed capital punishment and life imprisonment in cases related to deaths due to illegal liquor consumption.
This law was made by the state government after seven people died from illegal liquor poisoning in Mandsaur. Speaker Girish Gautam declared the bill passed without any discussion amid sloganeering by Congress MLAs.
The Madhya Pradesh Moneylender (Amendment) Bill was passed in just six minutes; the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Bill was discussed for only 1.14 minutes.
Last year, amid tight COVID-19 safety guidelines, the single-day special monsoon session was adjourned within 90 minutes. These are the shortest hours that the Madhya Pradesh assembly has been convened in years.
The Speaker, Girish Gautam, has indicated it is a matter of concern. He said if a law, especially a penal law, is passed without debate, it is not so convenient but due to uproar, the assembly had to be stopped again and again. In such a case, it is natural that the government will have to do business and pass the law, he said.
The Lok Sabha and the Supreme Court have also expressed the same concern that any law passed without discussion will not be good for democracy.
During the 14th assembly, the proceedings of the house lasted only 130 days, in which 50 days were lost due to protests. When there was a change of power, out of 5,315 questions asked in Kamal Nath’s Congress government, 4,200 became invalid.
In the current 15th assembly, 17 meetings were proposed last March but only two were held. In the same month last year, three meetings were also proposed, but only one took place, lasting 1.26 hours. On September 21, three meetings were proposed, but one meeting was held, that too for only 9 minutes.
The BJP and the opposition Congress have been blaming each other for this situation.
Congress MLA and former law minister PC Sharma said, “Even the laws prescribing capital punishment or life imprisonment were passed in two-three minutes. This is the typical attitude of the BJP and RSS that laws should be made without any discussion. They have no faith in democracy. If it continues like this, the assembly will become irrelevant.”
BJP MLA and cabinet minister Vishwas Sarang said, “Why only in state? Even in parliament the Congress is to be blamed. Certainly, there should be discussions while making laws, but the Congress has created hurdles in the running of the house.”