Maansi Verma


Separation of powers is understood as the diffusion of powers among different branches of the government, with each branch acting as a check on the other. This principle is considered an anti-thesis to totalitarianism, preventing the absolute concentration of power and thus protecting liberty. The Cabinet-style parliamentary form of government, with its genesis in Britain, fused together the executive with the legislature. This resulted in powerful executives and weakened legislatures with limited oversight capabilities. As institutions evolved over time, internal rules and procedures also evolved both as constraints and enablers of executive dominance, by distributing the powers of agenda control. Agenda control, understood as the power to decide what gets on the agenda, is a contested notion between the executive and the legislature. While there have been studies exploring agenda control in the context of the United States Congress and parliaments in several European countries, a similar study in the context of the Indian Parliament is yet to emerge. This paper attempts to examine the rules and procedures of the Indian Parliament to determine who controls the agenda, and what impact this control has on the oversight function of Parliament. For this purpose, the paper will limit itself to procedures pertaining to convening and proroguing a session, deciding the time and agenda for legislative discourse, and controlling deliberations on financial matters. The paper ends by making some recommendations on the reform of these rules and procedures, so as to ensure a greater sharing of the power of agenda control between the executive and the legislature in India.

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