State legislative assemblies met for an average of 21 days in 2021 and passed over 500 bills on a range of subjects including ones on regulating higher education, online gaming, religious conversions and preservation of cattle.
Most of these bills saw “little legislative scrutiny” with about half of the bills being passed within a day of their introduction, according to a legislative think tank.
The highest number of 48 bills were passed by Karnataka last year. In 2020 too, Karnataka had passed the most bills –55. The lowest number of bills were passed by Delhi — two, followed by Puducherry (3) and Mizoram (5), according to the Annual Review of State Laws 2021 brought out by PRS Legislative.
Legislatures have the primary responsibility of making laws. These laws have to be examined in detail and passed after debate and deliberation, the study noted. “However, state legislatures often pass bills without adequate scrutiny, which raises the question of the quality of such laws,” it said.
In 2021, 44 per cent of the bills were passed within a day of their introduction in the legislature. In eight states including Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab, and Bihar, all bills were passed on the same day as they were introduced,” it said.
The previous Punjab Assembly introduced and passed 16 bills in its last sitting,” the think tank observed.
Five states took more than five days to pass more than 50 per cent of their bills. These are Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha and Rajasthan.
In Kerala, 94 per cent of the bills were passed after at least five days of their introduction in the legislature. The corresponding figure was 70 per cent for Karnataka, and 80 per cent for Meghalaya.
Committees, the study pointed out, help legislatures discuss bills in detail and scrutinise their provisions closely. Committees also provide an opportunity to engage with sectoral experts and stakeholders which allows for wider participation in the law-making process.
“However, at the state level, committees are often the exception rather than the norm, and bills are rarely examined by committees. In 2021, around 40 bills, across states, were sent to committees for detailed examination,” it said.
In 2021, 21 out of 28 states promulgated ordinances. The Kerala government promulgated the highest number of 144 ordinances followed by Andhra Pradesh (20) and Maharashtra (15).
In Kerala, bills replacing 33 ordinances became Acts and in Andhra Pradesh, all bills replacing these Ordinances became Acts in 2021. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh also promulgated ordinances to give effect to budget proposals, the study said.
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