Legislative assembly

Most State Assemblies Sit Barely 30 Days a Year | India News

NEW DELHI: After weeks and months of intense and often polarizing politics and huge sums of money spent on campaigning and the conduct of elections, most state legislatures barely sit 30 days a year. In some like Haryana and Punjab, the average is around fifteen days.
The states with the highest average of assembly sittings in a year over the past decade are Odisha (46) and Kerala (43), but even these are well below the average of 63 for the Lok Sabha.

Even Lok Sabha’s participation pales in comparison to national legislatures elsewhere. The United States House of Representatives, for example, sat for 163 days in 2020 and 166 days in 2021, and the Senate for 192 days in both years. The UK House of Commons held 147 sittings in 2020, matching its annual average of around 155 over the previous decade. The Japanese Diet, or House of Representatives, meets 150 days a year outside of any extraordinary or special session. In Canada, the House of Commons is to sit 127 days this year and the German Bundestag, where the presence of MPs is compulsory on sitting days, is to meet 104 days this year.

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TOI analyzed sitting data for 19 legislatures available on their websites. The average covers the period from 2012 to 2021, except for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, for which data was only available from 2014.
In almost all of the states analyzed, the lowest number of sittings took place in 2020 or 2021, the two Covid years, except in Haryana, where the lowest, 11 sittings, took place in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. In the case of the Lok Sabha, the highest number in the new millennium, 85 days, was in 2000 and 2005 and the lowest was 33 in 2020, a Covid year.
Some state legislature websites provide data as early as the year the state was formed, while many only have data for just over a decade or less. In states that have had data since the beginning, the average number of sessions per year seems to have gradually decreased.
For example, in UP, the average of 47 days from the 1960s through the mid-1980s fell to around 30 days by the turn of the century and is now just 22 days. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, from 1955 to 1975 the average number of annual sittings was about 56 days, in the period 1975-1999 it fell to 51 days and since 2000 it fell to 37 days per year .
However, in the case of Punjab, the number of sittings was low as early as 1966 when the state was formed. The highest number of sessions was 42 in 1967. The lowest of just 11 sessions occurred in 1971, 1985, and 2021. Over the past decade, the average was just 15.
Although the number of sittings in a given year may be reduced due to elections or other reasons such as the reign of the president, the average indicates a trend. It is true that the mere fact of looking at the number of sittings does not take into account the number of working hours of an assembly per day. State legislative records show sittings as short as a few hours to those that were full working days, but they all count as sitting days.
Of course, attending the assembly is not the only job that legislators do, especially if they are also ministers, but the extremely low number of days for legislative business raises the question of whether enough time is devoted to basic functions such as oversight of the executive, debates and discussions on key issues, and the development of laws.