Meeting of presiding officers to discuss anti-defection law next month

Participants will also discuss the falling quality of debates in Parliament: Om Birla

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday said a presiding officers’ conference would be held for three days from October 26 at Shimla in Himachal Pradesh and it would see discussions on a report on the anti-defection law prepared by a committee headed by C.P. Joshi, Speaker of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, and the diminishing quality of debates in Parliament and in the State legislatures.

“We are also concerned about the diminishing standard of discipline, decorum and decency in our legislatures…We are organising a conference of presiding officers on this subject, to which the Chief Ministers and other stakeholders of the States will also be invited,” Mr. Birla said. The Speaker had also flagged these issues during his address to members of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Friday.

After the acceptance of the report of the C.P. Joshi Committee at the conference, the government would be urged to accept it. It is for the Union government to decide on amendments to the existing law by introducing a Bill in Parliament, the Speaker said.

The committee was constituted by Mr. Birla in the wake of debates surrounding the anti-defection law and powers of the Speaker to adjudicate, which came into the discussion after 17 legislators of the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka resigned and joined the BJP in 2019.

The Lok Sabha Speaker said a comprehensive action plan would be prepared at the conference of presiding officers for improving the efficacy and credibility of parliamentary democracy. For enabling elected representatives to work with full efficiency and fulfil their commitments to the people, the Speaker said programmes would be organised for capacity building of all public representatives from panchayat to parliament through Pride, an institution of Parliament. Mr. Birla also said that 75 programmes would be organised to commemorate 75 years of the country’s independence. “The goal is to make all democratic institutions from panchayat to Parliament more empowered, accountable, and strong, and I believe that through these programmes we will be able to achieve our goal,” he said.

Centenary year

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament is set to complete 100 years. On this occasion, a celebration will be organised on December 4 and 5. Public representatives of the country and people’s representatives from other democratic countries would be invited.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the Parliament library would also be celebrating its centenary this year. The library will be fully digitalised for accessing data and books.

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