IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 4th Sep 2020
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney.
EDITORIAL HUNT #125 :“Dropping Question Hour | UPSC“
Dropping Question Hour | UPSC
Hamid Ansari is the former Vice President of India, 2007-2017
A politics of avoidance that must be questioned
The dropping of Question Hour, which helps the government feel the nation’s pulse, goes against the grain of democracy
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Parliament
The real test of democracy is ability to cope up with the instruments of accountability and Parliamentary procedures. Comment-(GS 2)
- Democratic setup
- Why Question Hour is important tool in parliamentary form of government
- Possible Alternatives.
- SETUP : Where in, the executive is accountable to the electorate through a legislature which in turn is periodically elected by the electorate.
- REAL ACCOUNTABILITY : This accountability lies at the heart of democratic government .
- We put in place by the legislature whose functions include lawmaking.
- Controlling the national finances
- Approving taxation proposals
- Discussions on matters of public interest and concern.
INSTRUMENTS OF ACCOUNTABILITY
- QUESTION HOUR : Among these instruments of accountability, the daily ‘Question Hour’ has an unmatched criticality w.r.t Member of the House, Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha.
- CHECKS ACCOUNTABILITY : It has a special significance in the proceedings of Parliament since it covers every aspect of states activity, domestic and foreign.
- INSPECTING PERFORMANCE : The legislature is thus helped to feel the pulse of the nation and give the public a view of the performance of the Ministers.
- RULES OF PROCEDURE : These include, inter alia, the notice period, conditions of admissibility, balloting, and regulatory prescriptions.
- CROSS EXAMINATION : Questions are addressed to a specific Minister of the government and can seek oral answers marked by an asterisk or a written one.
- INTERROGATION : The veracity of the answers given are matters of utmost importance .
- RECORDING RESPONSES : Copies of answers given are available to Members at the Notice Office before the start of the day’s proceedings as also on the websites.
SEEKING THE SPECIFICS
- ELICIT INFORMATION : Since questions are generally ‘pointed, specific and confined to one issue only’, they tend to elicit specific information from the government.
- SCRUTINY : The answers given to questions leading to wider debates, inquiries, and even administrative scandals.
- MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN : Information so made available adds to public information essential to informed debates on matters of interest or concern.
CITING THE PANDEMIC IS JARRING
- THE GRAVITY : The spread of COVID-19 continues to be experienced by people the world over and by every citizen of the country.
- ROUND THE GLOBE : Legislative bodies have continued to function with new sets of ‘dos and don’ts’.
- RIGHT TO QUESTION : In this context, the deletion of ‘Question Hour’ from the announced agenda of the day is baffling and has understandingly been viewed as curtailment of the right to question the government.
- STARRED QUESTION : The purpose of a Starred Question is to explore the intent and the alleged illegality or procedural lacuna that the government decision in question.
- PROCEDURAL OPTIONS : Perhaps greater sensitivity to parliamentary and public sentiments could have been displayed by exploring procedural options .
- FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS : One way could be to admit the Starred Question ; Member concerned can follow up questions also to be answered in writing the following day.
- FINAL AUTHORITY : The Chairman and the Speaker unquestionably have the final word on matters relating to the proceedings of their respective Houses.
The test of a functioning democracy is its ability to face crises — social, economic, political — and seek correctives premised on institutions of democracy.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Dropping Question Hour | UPSC