The lack of quorum in Assam Assembly forced the Speaker to adjourn the House on Friday for some time putting a big question mark on the seriousness of our legislators when it comes to the business of the House. Quorum means the minimum number of members of an Assembly or society who must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. In fact, it’s the first in Assam Assembly history whereas in Indian Parliament sessions quorum has been put in effect many a time. The Congress and AIUDF claimed that this is a "shameful episode" in the history of Assam Assembly that never occurred earlier. But this very episode brings forth the question in a democracy how important is the role of the lawmaker in the House in a democracy. There is no denying the fact that Assembly is considered as the temple of democracy. And the importance of an Assembly session is of immense importance to state and its citizens. Since, every policy, legislation has to go through a certain set of procedures by abiding constitution. This is exactly what legislators who are sent as a people’s representative to the Assembly house was supposed to carry out. Sadly, the adjournment of the Assam assembly house for lack of presence of adequate members also gives credence to the fact that lawmakers these days have scant regard for the temple of democracy. The unruly behavior of legislators in Indian parliament and state assemblies are nothing new to write about. There were instances when the lawmakers shamed entire country by their acts inside the assembly house or parliament. The point to drive home is that legislators are entrusted by the people to make laws mainly to protect the rights of citizens in democracy. But if these very legislators behave in a whimsical manner, it puts a serious question mark on the role of a legislator. Notably, there is no binding on legislators to act in a specified manner, but the rule of law warrants them to act in a responsible and disciplined manner for the greater good of the society whom they are representing inside the house.
Meanwhile, everytime the Assembly is in session we get to hear the issue of raise in salaries of MLA’s where all of the legislators show keen interest to pass the bill. However, same keenness is found missing when a bill is presented to the House in the interest of the common people. Notably, in 2010, Indian Members of Parliament voted themselves a threefold hike in their basic salary, and doubled the constituency and office expense allowances. Since parliament itself is a body to pass bills and make them laws in our country, asking the MP's whether they want salary hike or not is like asking a bunch a kids whether they want ice cream or not, answer would never be no. Though there are no studies done on wastage of time in state assemblies, studies are available on functioning of Indian Parliament.
Here are some worrying figures, if 18 workings days of a session are disrupted, an estimated Rs 35 crore of the taxpayer's money will be lost. Each minute of Parliament in session costs approximately Rs. 29,000. The Rajya Sabha works for an average five hours a day, the Lok Sabha for six; a total 11 hours. According to a survey, which alyzed functioning of the Indian Parliament, pointed out in recent years, the proceedings in the Indian Parliament have come to be largely characterized as unproductive, in view of ceaseless disruptions by various Members of Parliament. While the expression of dissent within the confines of parliamentary etiquette is a legitimate form of protest, the manner in which it currently manifests itself in Parliament is far from acceptable. The tural consequence of such behaviour is twofold - first, taxpayers’ money gets wasted over a non-functioning Parliament; second, the legislative paralysis stultifies the overall governce in the country.
People have huge expectations from MP and MLAs for deliberations on their issues inside the parliament or assembly house. But if the legislators fail in their basic duties towards democracy, it calls for a serious introspection.