Assurances are made by the government on the floor of the Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha during the course of debates, answering questions etc. Here is a review of the status of the assurances made during the last (16th) and the current (17th) Lok Sabha.
The business conducted on the floor of both the houses of parliament is a key aspect of our democracy. Parliamentary proceedings include introduction and discussion on various bills, debates on important public issues, questions raised by the members of parliament and the responses provided by the government etc. While responding to the questions asked in the house and during debates, the government on various occasions makes assurances, undertakings, promises to consider, take action or furnish information on a later date. Such responses by the Government are termed as Assurances in parliamentary parlance.
Factly has earlier written a story on the status of Assurances made in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This information was based on the data provided by the respective committees on Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha websites as on 26 June 2019.
One year on, we take a look at the current status of these assurances along with the new assurances made in the subsequent sessions of Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha. Even for this story, we rely on the information provided in the websites of Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha.
50 New assurances added for 16th Lok Sabha after the expiry of term.
As per the information provided on Lok Sabha’s website, the total number of assurances during 16th Lok Sabha are 5,385. This is 50 more than number of assurances as of 26 June 2019. This implies that the Lok Sabha’s Committee on Government Assurances has added these 50 assurances after the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha in May’2019.
The assurances made in the Lok Sabha do not lapse even after the dissolution or expiry of the term in Lok Sabha. The work of the committee is of a continuous nature and hence a review of the assurances made earlier also fall under the ambit of the committee. Hence, if the committee feels that there needs to be a review or addition of new assurances from earlier Lok Sabha, they could do so.
Analysis of the data shows that the revision was made to the numbers of assurances across multiple ministries. An example is of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, where-in an additional assurance is added over the past one year, taking the total number of assurances under this Ministry in 16th Lok Sabha to 4, from 3 a year ago.
A majority of the assurances were added from the 17th Session i.e. the last session of previous Lok Sabha, with 42 additions .
Pendency of assurances for 16th Lok Sabha fell by around 9% in the last one year
As per the information available on the Lok Sabha’s website, as on 26 June 2019, pendency of assurances made in 16th Lok Sabha was nearly 33%. As on that date 3,447 assurances were marked as ‘Fully Implemented’ out of 5,335 assurances with 1,754 pending.
As highlighted earlier, the assurances do not lapse after the expiry of the term. The Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs pursue these assurances.
Hence, as per the latest information as on 15 July 2020, the number of pending assurances fell to 1,283 i.e. nearly 24%. Further 3,928 assurances from the 16th Lok Sabha were fully implemented i.e. 481 additional assurances fully implemented compared to the situation a year ago.
Apart from the fully implemented assurances, another contributor towards the reduction in pending assurances are the ‘Dropped’ assurances. As indicated in the chart, the number of dropped assurances have increased to 146 from 91 over a year ago.
The Working guidelines of the committee provide for an Assurance to be dropped, in case the government feels that it is not feasible to implement the assurance and the Committee also agrees with the facts presented by the government.
One such example is a ‘Dropped’ assurance by Ministry of External Affairs on 04 December 2019. The assurance identified by the Committee was relating to a question asked in Lok Sabha raised on 27 December, 2017.
The Minister of State for External Affairs, provided an update for one of the specific questions, stating that the proposals to open Cultural Centres in certain cities are being processed. This was considered as an assurance by the Committee but dropped on a later date. The reasons for dropping were not furnished except that it was dropped at the sitting held on 04 December 2019.
19% of the Assurances made prior to 2018 in 16th Lok Sabha are still pending
It is a general trend that assurances made during the more recent Lok Sabha sessions tend to be pending, as it takes time for their fulfilment. Accordingly, the pendency rate is higher for the assurances made during the later sessions of 16th Lok Sabha. As highlighted earlier, the total pendency rate of assurances in 16th Lok Sabha currently stands at 24%. A sizable number of assurances from 14th-16th sessions have been implemented resulting in the drop of pendency rates. However, around 19% of the assurances are still pending for around 2.5 years i.e. including and prior to 13th Session (Dec 2017 – Jan 2018).
More than 50% assurances pending in 3 Ministries in 16th Lok Sabha
More than 50% of the assurances are pending for the Ministry for Minority Affairs, Ministry for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying and Ministry for Parliamentary affairs. However, the pendency rates may not reflect the true picture since a smaller number of assurances are pending in these ministries.
On the other hand, Power Ministry has 44% of its 74 Assurances pending, while Ministry of Law & Justice has 43.6% of its 275 assurances pending. Around 38% of Ministry of Labour & Employment’s 178 assurances are pending. Comparatively, MHRD did a better job of fulfilling assurances with only around 20% of 309 assurances pending.
93% pendency rate for Assurances made in the current Lok Sabha
The information of assurances provided in the current Lok Sabha i.e. 17th Lok Sabha is available only for the first session on the website of Lok Sabha. A total of 505 assurances were made out of which only 32 have been fully implemented so far. There are no ‘Dropped’ or ‘Partially Completed’ assurances as yet, with the rest of 473 pending i.e. around 93% pending rate.
Highest number of Assurances were made by Ministry of Railways with 57 out of which only 1 is fully implemented. MHRD which was a better performer in fulfilling assurances during the previous Lok Sabha, has not fulfilled any of the 31 assurances made during the current Lok Sabha.
Assurances made in Rajya Sabha during the current Lok Sabha have 82% pendency rate
Unlike Lok Sabha which has a specific tenure, Rajya Sabha is a Permanent House. After the current Lok Sabha is constituted, three sessions of Rajya Sabha were held– 249, 250 & 251.
In these three sessions, a total of 387 assurances were made out of which 68 were fully implemented. As is the trend , the pendency rate of Rajya Sabha is better than the corresponding Lok Sabha, with the pendency in these 3 sessions at 82%.
43% of the assurances made during 249th Session of Rajya Sabha i.e. the first session after the current Lok Sabha was constituted are fully implemented.
Delay in implementation of assurances continues to be a problem
As the data indicates , the pendency rate of assurances made during the previous Lok Sabha has subsequently come down during the tenure of the current Lok Sabha. However, around 51% of the assurances made since 2018 in the previous Lok Sabha are still pending.
The first session of the current Lok Sabha has a pendency rate of 93% even though it has been almost a year since the session was held.
The data indicates a continuing trend as observed in an earlier story on Factly. Beyond these absolute numbers, a case by case review of pending assurances would reveal instances where the fulfilment of that assurance could have a major impact.
For instance, there was a question asked in Lok Sabha on 04 March 2011, during UPA-2, regarding FEMA violations to the tune of Rs. 146 crores. As on date, the assurance is still pending with no information on the status of the case.
While the presence & functioning of the ‘Committee on Government Assurances’ is ensuring that the required checks & balances are in place, the long pending assurances raise questions on the accountability of the successive governments in fulfilling their bounden duty.