The UPA Government is not listening to its own Parliament. Since it came to power in 2004, the UPA has accepted less than half the recommendations of various parliamentary committees, shooting down 3,977 of the 7,924 proposals. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has accepted only 31 per cent of the recommendations, while the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has accepted only 20 per cent. The commerce ministry has the worst record: it has rejected 90 per cent of the proposals.
The standing committee system was formed so that issues could be discussed better behind closed doors instead of on the floor of the House. Whenever there is a demand for extending the period of Parliament sittings, the Government rejects it noting that the parliamentary committees are efficient enough to hold discussions on behalf of Parliament.
The HRD Standing Committee has recommended changes in the Educational Tribunals Bill, saying that it was drafted in haste without proper consultation, particularly with the private sector. The Bill proposes to set up educational tribunals to adjudicate disputes in the higher education system. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told a Cabinet meeting to turn down the recommendations. The Cabinet approved the Bill without any amendments, but it met with stiff resistance in the Rajya Sabha from the Opposition and even Congress members. Sibal was forced to withdraw the Bill.
When the standing committee on defence made 151 recommendations for the welfare of ex-servicemen, only 18 were accepted by the Government. Even for controversial policies like procurement, the Government has turned down 11 of 28 recommendations. Out of 58 reports by the committee on urban development, 23 were shot down. The committee had recommended that the Delhi Development Authority must be primarily responsible for residential housing development in Delhi, but last week Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath said that his ministry would join private players in the urban infrastructure sector.
The Government's attitude towards Parliament shows how skin-deep its commitment towards democracy is.