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Parliament Data: While the share of ‘Pending Assurances’ reduces, some long-pending assurances are a concern

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The government makes several promises during the proceedings in the parliament. These promises are termed assurances. Data indicates that while the share of pending assurances has reduced over a period, some long-pending assurances are still a cause for concern.

Parliamentary proceedings are an important part of our democracy. Discussion on various legislations, debates on important issues, questions, seeking clarifications, etc. form a major part of these proceedings. 

In response to the debates & questions, the government on various occasions makes assurances/promises, updates on action taken, or assurance for future action. In parliamentary terms, these are termed as “Assurances”. 

The “Committee on Governance Assurances” is constituted by both the “Lok Sabha” & the “Rajya Sabha” to ensure that the assurances made by the government are implemented in a reasonable timeframe. 

Factly has earlier written about the Assurances made in both the Lok Sabha & the Rajya Sabha. The information is based on the data provided by both the committees on the respective house websites. In this story, we look at the latest status of these assurances. The data used in the story is from the respective committee website of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha as available on 01 December 2021

Around 60 % of the assurances made so far in the Current Lok Sabha are pending 

As of 01 December 2021, a total of 1617 assurances are made in the current i.e., 17th Lok Sabha. Out of these, 606 assurances are fully implemented, while one assurance is partially implemented. A further 40 assurances were dropped. Around 60% of these assurances made i.e., 970 assurances are still pending. 

It must be noted that the assurances do not lapse after the expiry of a Lok Sabha term. The pending assurances are pursued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs. Therefore, the assurances from the previous Lok Sabha are also pursued. 

Data indicates that around 10% of the assurances made in the 16th Lok Sabha are pending i.e., 528 out of the 5388 assurances made, as of 01 December 2021. Further, another 142 assurances from the 15th Lok Sabha are pending. This accounts for 2.4% of the total assurances made in the 15th Lok Sabha. 

Pending Assurances from the 16th Lok Sabha decreased by around 14% in the last 18 months 

In our previous story, we considered the assurances data as of 15 July 2020. As of that date, 1283 assurances were pending out of the total 5385 assurances made during the 16th Lok Sabha. A further 146 assurances were dropped, and 28 assurances were partially implemented. A total of 3928 assurances from the 16th Lok Sabha were fully implemented as of 15 July 2020. 

After nearly one & a half years, i.e., as of 01 December 2021, the number of pending assurances from the 16th Lok Sabha fell to 528. A total of 3 assurances were added to the 16th Lok Sabha, taking the total number of assurances to 5388. In the earlier story, we highlighted that the Lok Sabha’s Committee on Government assurances can add assurances pertaining to previous Lok Sabha.  In other words, the share of pending assurances fell from 23.8% to 9.8% in these one & a half years. 

During the same period, the number of fully implemented assurances increased from 3928 to 4507.  The number of assurances that were dropped also increased to 340 from 146. At the same time, the number of partially implemented assurances fell from 28 to 13. These could have either been fully implemented or dropped. 

70% of the assurances pending from the 16th Lok Sabha were made prior to 2018

It is not unusual for the greatest number of assurances to be pending from the more recent sessions of the Lok Sabha. Hence it is understandable that 60% of the assurances made during the 17th Lok Sabha are pending compared to the 10% from the 16th Lok Sabha.  We had already highlighted that in the last one & a half years, the proportion of pending assurances fell from 23.8% to 9.8%.

In the earlier story, we highlighted that the assurances made in the later sessions of the 16th Lok Sabha have a comparatively higher pending rate than the earlier sessions. After one & a half years, the trend remains the same, with the assurances made during the later sessions continuing to have a higher proportion of pendency albeit with much-reduced numbers than earlier. 

About 28% of the assurances made in the 17th and final session of the 16th Lok Sabha are pending while around 23% of assurances are pending from the previous or the 16th session of the 16th Lok Sabha. 

However, the concerning aspect is the fact that out of the total assurances pending from the 16th Lok Sabha, nearly 70% of them were made prior to 2018. For instance, the 14th Session of the 16th Lok Sabha was held between February & April 2018.  A total of 368 assurances are pending from the 13 Lok Sabha sessions held prior to 2018, pointing towards a trend of long-standing pending assurances. 

More than 50% of the pending assurances of the 16th Lok Sabha are with 8 Ministries 

The highest number of assurances made during the 16th Lok Sabha was from the Ministry of Railways with 317. Of these, 33 i.e., 10.4% are pending.  The performance of the Ministry of Home Affairs is better when compared to the other Ministries with a higher number of assurances. Only 2 of the 302 assurances relating to the Ministry are pending. 

On the other hand, the Ministry of Law and justice accounted for the greatest number of assurances pending with 79. This constitutes 29% of the total 273 assurances given. Railways and Communications are next in the line of pending assurances with 33 and 32 respectively. 

Out of the 58 ministries that made assurances during the 16th Lok Sabha, 11 do not have any pending assurances. Among the rest, 8 ministries account for more than 50% i.e., 269 out of 528 pending assurances as of 01 December 2021.  

61% of the assurances made in Rajya Sabha during the current Lok Sabha are pending 

Rajya Sabha is a permanent house and is not dissolved like the Lok Sabha after the specified term. During the current i.e., 17th Lok Sabha, there were 7 Rajya Sabha Sessions including the ongoing session (249-255). 

During this period, a total of 641 assurances were made in the Rajya Sabha, of which 394 are pending.  Of these, a major portion is from the previous Rajya Sabha session, that is the 254th session of Rajya Sabha. All the 103 assurances made during the session are pending. As is the case with Lok Sabha, the proportion of pending assurances is higher in the case of more recent Rajya Sabha sessions.

Long-pending assurances are a cause for concern 

Data indicates that there is a fall in the pendency of pending assurances over a period. In the last one & a half years, the pendency rate of assurances relating to the 16th Lok Sabha fell from 23.8% to 9.8%. Even in the case of Lok Sabha, the higher proportion of pending cases are from the more recent sessions. Based on the trends, there could be a fall in the pendency of these assurances in the future. 

However, as pointed out earlier, nearly 70% of the pending assurances from the 16th Lok Sabha were made prior to its 14th Session i.e., prior to 2018. These pending assurances could continue to be pending based on the trend in recent years.  Further, 449 assurances are pending in the Rajya Sabha that was made during the sessions of the previous Lok Sabhas. 

For instance, there is a pending assurance in Lok Sabha from 03 December 2015. This is related to the siphoning of Jute Bags meant for the distribution of food grains under PDS.  The government acknowledges the occurrence of such an incident and the case is pending with CBI. The latest review was on 09 March 2017, and the assurance regarding the update on the investigation is still pending. 

In another instance, the Ministry of Finance made an assurance regarding an instance of over-invoicing of coal imported from Indonesia. The question was asked in the Lok Sabha on 24 April 2015.  The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is investigating the case and there is no update yet on the assurance made. The most recent sitting was on 28 September 2021 and is still pending. 

These are just a few of the assurances which are long pending without any update from the respective ministry. 

Featured Image: Pending Assurances 

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