The Constitution provides for disqualification of a Member of Parliament (MP) if he/she is absent continuously for 60 days from the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha without permission. Hence MPs submit leave applications when they are absent for a longer period of time. In the 16th Lok Sabha, 63 leave applications are submitted till August 2018.
The national average attendance for the 16th Lok Sabha MPs is around 80% as per the data compiled by PRS Legislative Research. The 16th Lok Sabha was in session for more than 320 days so far.
As for the MPs who are absent from the house, some of them submit a leave application. In the first 4 odd years of the 16th Lok Sabha, a total of 63 leave applications were received from 43 MPs of the Lok Sabha. These 63 applications together sought a leave more than 2000 days.
Why does a MP submit a leave application?
Article 101 of the Constitution of India lays down conditions for declaring a parliamentary seat as vacant. One of the conditions is about absence of members from the house. If any MP is absent for a continuous period of sixty days (60) without permission, the house can declare his seat as vacant. Hence MPs submit leave applications when they are absent from the house for a relatively longer period.
The MP is supposed to submit his leave application to the Speaker of the house citing the reasons for absence. One single leave application cannot exceed 60 days. All the leave applications thus received are referred to the ‘Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House’. This is a standing committee in the Lok Sabha that meets and decides on each leave application. A suitable recommendation is made for each leave application. In practice, leave applications are never rejected and the recommendations made by the committee are ratified by the house. The committee is currently chaired by P Karunakaran of the CPI(M), an MP from Kerala.
63 Leave applications in the 16h Lok Sabha so far
Till date, 63 leave applications were submitted by 43 MPs of the 16th Lok Sabha. Out of the 63 leave applications, MPs of the BJP submitted 24 leave applications followed by 13 of the Trinamool Congress, 7 by MPs of the BJD and 4 from the Congress. MPs of the NCP & YSRCP submitted 3 leave applications each. Overall, MPs belonging to 13 different political parties submitted leave applications in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Illness is the most cited reason
35 of the 63 leave applications cited illness as the reason for leave. Thirty four (34) of them mentioned illness to self while one application by a BJP MP mentioned illness in the family as the reason. Ten (10) applications mentioned elections in their constituency as the reason for their absence. Three (3) applications mentioned constituency related work as the reason for absence while the six applications from a BJD MP mentioned detention in jail as the reason. The BJD MP was arrested by the CBI in a chit fund scam. Overall, detention in jail was cited as the reason in 10 applications. MPs from Trinamool Congress & LJP also cited detention in jail as the reason for absence. Three applications mentioned visit abroad as the reason for absence including one from BJP MP Hema Malini. One application from Trinamool MP Sugata Bose mentioned a teaching assignment abroad as the reason for absence. Only one application by a Trinamool Congress MP mentioned multiple reasons in the application like visit abroad, marriage in the family and relief work in constituency. Two MPs mentioned ‘Death in Family’ as the reason for absence. Unfortunately, four MPs who applied for leave passed away i.e., Kapil Krishna Thakur of the Trinamool Congress, Vinod Khanna & Chand Nath Yogi of the BJP, and M. I. Shanavas of the Congress
The committee recommended all the leave applications
The committee recommended all the leave applications received from MPs. In only five cases, it did not recommend the total number of days as applied by the MP. In the case of former INC MP Amarinder Singh & BJP MP Vitthalbhai Hansrajbhai Radadiyathe, the committee recommended leave for 59 days and asked them to apply afresh for the remaining days since it cannot recommend leave of absence for more than 59 days at one go. Same was the case with the leave application of YSRCP MP, S P Y Reddy. In the case of BJD MP Rama Chandra Hansdah, who was in jail, the committee condoned 67 days of leave. In all the other cases, the committee recommended the same number of days as applied by the MP. The BJD MP who was in judicial custody applied for a leave for the most number of days (299 days) followed by BJP MP, Chand Nath (164 days) who passed away in 2017. Eight (8) other MPs applied for a leave of more than 50 days each.