H C Singh

Second Parliament – A Brief Survey

The wheel of democratic elections has completed the third round and the chariot of parliamentary democracy has started moving smoothly on the Indian soil. In fact the greatest experiment in parliamentary democracy is being conducted in India. It is thus that, during the third general elections, the attention of the entire world was focused on India though the outcome, in terms of victory of Indian national congress and formation of government by Mr. Nehru, was never in doubt.

The success of parliamentary democracy in India has special significance because except in Colombo, the lights of democracy have gone out all around India in Karachi, Rangoon and Kathmandu. Even in Europe, except in U.K. Parliamentary democracy had got into trouble everywhere. There is quasi-dictatorship in France while Spain and Portugal are being run on the line of Hitlerite one-man rule. There is some sort of direct democracy in Switzerland, but in small countries like Holland and Belgium it does not much matter to the outside world whether there is Parliamentary democracy or military dictatorship. It is in this context that a brief survey of the second parliament has been attempted.

Can the world afford to be taken to the brink of war every six months or a year?

The history of events since the end of Second World War has shown that colonialism can not be defended bu dollar aids and communism can not be “contained” by military pacts. West should work for a negotiated retreat form its empires, colonies and protectorates and U.S.A should stop financing and equipping futile campaigns like that a French in Indo-China and Algeria and that of Chiang Kai-shek against Mao Tse-Tung.

The price of lasting peace is the end of all colonies and protectorates retreat of all U.S. Fleets to the American waters termination of Atlantic and war saw alliances suspension of nuclear tests and abolition of nuclear weapons.

By attempting to support the cause of discredited leaders like Chouman, Hussein and Chiang Kai-shek and defend colonies like Algeria and Goa. The west is burning its own boats. It is not only strengthening the forces of communism but disappointing and antagonizing the uncommitted nations like India, Egypt and Indonesia.

As Lok Sabha is the august law – making body and greatest single repository of sovereignty more attention had been paid to its works and achievements during 1957-1965. The main object is to see how far India has succeeded in the great experiment of establishing parliamentary democracy on a sound footing.

Composition And Class Structure

In the outset variations in the composition and structure of second Lok Sabha vis-a-vis first lok sabha must be pointed out and their implications analyzed. From the above table it will be seen that in the second Lok Sabha, except P.S.P. all the national political parties improved their representation at the cost of independents and other un-recognised political parties. The chief gainer was the C.P.I which earned recognition as the main opposition group in the Lok Sabha.

It is noteworthy that in the first general elections a plethora of political parties and groups were given ad-hoc recognition i.e. 14 as national parties and 59 as state parties. After the elections were over, the Election Commission decided that hereafter only those political parties would get recognition and symbols which had secured more than 3% of the valid votes polled. At the time of 1957 General Elections only four political parties and 12 as State parties. This is a healthy development.

In the second Lok Sabha the biggest opposition group had 27 votes against 371 of the ruling party. It is understandable because Indian National Congress, upto 1947, was not a political party, in the strict sense, but a national movement under whose banner all those had rallied who wanted to strive for the liberation of India form colonial rule. While, on the other hand, the C.P.I. is an extremist ideology and other parties viz. Jan Sangh and P.S.P are of post-independence origin. Above all no other party has dynamic leadership which Mr. Nehru provides for the Indian National Congress.

On May 10, 1957 the first sitting of the second Lok Sabha was held and upto December, 1961 i.e from the first to fifteenth session, 567 sittings with duration of 3,651 hours and 35 minutes were held. The second Lok Sabha had devoted more time because average duration of a sitting of Second Lok Sabha comes to 6 hours and 35 minutes as compared to 5 hours and 35 minutes of the first Lok Sabha.

There was younger element in the Second Lok Sabha at the majority of members fell in the age-group of 35-40 while in the first Lok Sabha it was the age group of 50-55. The class structure of the second Lok Sabha showed the decline of the professional politicians, businessman, industrialists and lawyers. There was a marked increase in the membership from agriculturist and teaching professions.

Legislative Work

The second Lok Sabha devoted 28.3% of its time to legislative business (excluding Budget) while the first lok Sabha had devoted 48.8%. The Budget matters took about 18% of the time of the second Lok Sabha and Questions 14.6%.

Upto the end of Fifteenth Session there were 209 enactments relating to fiscal, economic, social and political matters. In the fiscal field a number of acts were passed restricting the accumulation and inheritance of wealth (Wealth Tax). The laws relating to expenditure tax and super tax were amended so as to make the rich classed bear greater share of additional taxation required for the financing of the Five Year Plans.

In the economic and social field important acts were passed with the aim of ushering in significant social reforms. Measures like Working Journalists (fixation of rates of wages) Act, the Motor Transport Workers Act, the Maternity Benefit Act and the Iron and Mines Labour Welfare Class Act were brought to statute book.

In the social field most significant work of Second Parliament was the passage of Dowry Prohibition Act. As both houses of Parliament did not aggress to certain provisions of the Dowry Act, the differences were resolved by the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament. On April 18, 1961, the President notified his intention to summon the Two Houses of Parliament for the consideration of controversial provisions and clauses of the Dowry Bill. The Prime Minister suggested May 6, 1961 for this unique event. The deliberation of the two Houses reached the fruitful culmination in two days. After the disagreement of two Houses on clauses 2 and 4 was resolved the speaker declared the joint concluded as there is no provision in the constitution for the joint sitting.

Other important measures in the social field related to rehabilitation of delinquent children. The children Act provided for the reform and resettlement of neglected and delinquent children and for their trial.

Adjournment Motions and Questions

Out of 1262 adjournment motion received 502 were brought before the Lok Sabha and only three were admitted and discussed. These admitted adjournment motions related to (I) police firing in Sweepers Colony in Delhi, (ii) Breakdown of water supply in Delhi and (iii) failure of Government to protect lie and property of people in Murshidabad – Rajshahi border against intrusions by Pakistani troops. There was heated discussion on all these three adjournment motion after which the two were negatived and the third was withdrawn. From the vast number of adjournment motions brought before the House and admission of only three in the span if Five Years, it becomes clear that there is a tendency to bring forth any adjournment motion on each and every minor issues. The privilege of tabling an adjournment motion has been rather extravagantly used.

During the Second Lok Sabha notices were received for as many as 1,33,328 Questions out of which 62,800 (47%) were admitted. The percentage of admitted questions during the first Lok Sabha was 61. Ministry of Commerce and Industry had to bear the maximum brunt of the questions i.e 13.9% of the admitted questions. Ministries of Railways, Home Affairs and Food and Agriculture trailed behind.

It will be seen from the brief summary of the business of the House that except on Legislative measures all type of other business has taken more time of the second Lok Sabha. More adjournment motions were tabled, greater number of questions was asked and more time was devoted to other national matters and international affairs. It was more interesting to watch the proceedings of the second parliament.

Important Debates

As India is universally recognized leader of the non-aligned group of nations and as the policy of non-aligned is conductive to the maintenance of world peace in which India is passionately interested, discussion of international affairs occupied the pride of place among the important matters discussed and debated in the Second Parliament. Questions relating to international situation and the reactions of Government of India there to came before the Second Lok Sabha as many as eight times. Some of the international matters became so very important for national unity and solidarity that these were discussed time and again. Among the more important issues that came before the Second Parliament are: Situation in Tibet, Sino-Indian relations especially the Chinese incursions into India, Congolese Crisis, Disarmament, and decision of U.K. Government, to join European Common Market. The L.I.C investment policy led to the resignation of Finance Minister T.T.Krishnamachari and compulsory retirement of a senior member of the Indian Civil Service.

Privileges of the Parliament

The Privileges Committee of the second Lok Sabha held 38 meetings and submitted 13 reports to the Lok Sabha and five to its speaker. The most widely-known issue before the Privileges Committee related to the comment and criticism published in a Bombay weekly “Blitz”. On April 11, 1961, Shri J.B.Kripalani, M.P in a speech indicated the Defence Ministry and impeached the Defence Minister Shri V.K.Krishna Menon. “Blitz” in a dispatch from its correspondent in Delhi published that speech, made in the Lok Sabha, with such critical comments that the House regarded it as a breach of its Privileges. The Twelfth and the Thirteenth Reports dealt with the “Blitz” case. The editor of the weekly Blitz was found guilty of the breach of the privileges of the House. He was summoned before the bar of the house and reprimanded by the Speaker. The Blitz case gave rise, in certain quarters, to the demand for the codification of the Privileges of the Parliament. As in no other Parliamentary democracy, the Privileges of the Parliament are codified, it may be left to the parliament’s discretion to decide a privileges issue as and when it arises on its merit, keeping in view the dignity of the House and Fundamental Right of the people.

The completion of the Third General Election symbolized the success of the Parliamentary democracy in India. In conclusion, it will be in the fitness of things to congratulate the speaker of the second Lok Sabha, Shri M. Ananthasyanam Ayyangar and all the members of Parliament for upholding the dignity of the House and for debates in the Indian Parliament was of a meritorious task. The standard of debates in the Indian Parliament was of the first order. We had our Burkes and Gladstones, we also had our churchills and Bevins. They analysed the facts, enlightened the House and served the nation. It can, be safely concluded that the Second Parliament has amply demonstrated the effectiveness of democratic procedures and practices in bringing social reforms and in revolutionizing the economy of India.

August 24, 2009 - Posted by | India, Indian History | , , ,

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