Rajya Sabha should be given more powers so that the government consults it better before taking far-reaching decisions such as converting a state into Union Territories or redrawing the boundaries of a state, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in the upper House today. He was referring to the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Rajya Sabha as the council of states should be given ‘greater respect by the executive’, and should have been consulted before ‘drastic measures’ were taken to convert a state into two Union territories and redrawing of its boundaries,” the former Prime Minister said while addressing the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Winter Session.
The veteran Congress leader said that it is an “important duty” of the Rajya Sabha to “ensure that no law is passed in a moment of heightened emotion”.
Manmohan Singh, 86, returned to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan after a brief gap since his retirement from the Upper House on June 14 this year. He was elected unopposed as the BJP did not field a candidate against him. He was a member of the Upper House of Parliament from Assam for almost three decades.
The senior leader suggested several measures to make the Rajya Sabha more effective, including that the Upper House be allowed to discuss and deliberate important measures in greater depth.
He also said that Parliament should follow the practice for all Bills to be brought before the Upper House. But Article 110 allows the Lok Sabha “precedence in money bills”, he said.
“We have seen misuse of money bills leading to bypassing of the Rajya Sabha without any deliberation,” he said, adding that Parliament should “ensure that such instances are avoided as this reduces the stature of the institution.”
He said the Upper House has a central role to play in the form of “checks and balances to a majority government” as it presents the interests of the states.
He said that the Rajya Sabha being half in size of the Lok Sabha the members do not get time to share their insights.
He suggested that the House be allowed to study issues in more depth, and those with expertise should be allowed more time with their speeches in the House.