The presiding officers of the two Houses of the State legislature, in the backdrop of the outcry over legislature committees undertaking tours, have constituted a high-level official committee comprising officials of the legislature Secretariat to suggest modalities on organising tours for legislators, particularly trips abroad.
It has, however, been decided that tours by the legislators will continue, although the government did cancel one of them recently following public outcry and the reported direction received from the government purportedly on a communiqué from the Congress high command. According to reports, a large section of the legislators has decried the cancellation of tours and have conveyed that tours are a must since they help in acquiring knowledge and enabling them to serve the people better.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kagodu Thimmappa and Chairman of the Legislative Council D.H. Shankaramurthy have constituted the committee comprising five officials, and they have been tasked with the ways and means of going ahead with the tours. Directions have also been issued that the report of the committee should be submitted in about a week. It is stated that henceforth the tours may not be called as legislature committee tours but may be labelled legislators’ tour by virtue of which groups of legislators, irrespective of the legislature committees to which they belong, can participate in the tours. Further, they need not submit a report at the end of the tour.
Mr. Shankaramurthy told The Hindu that legislature committees’ tours are not a new phenomenon and they have been going on for over five decades. However, the tours initially were only within the country, although it was a regular feature for the legislature committees to go on tour within the State.
The coalition government of H.D. Kumaraswamy introduced the concept of a foreign tour — one tour for each of the legislature committee’s during the five-year term — and this was increased to two trips by the B.S. Yeddyurappa government.
There are 300 legislators in the two Houses of the State legislature and most of them form part of the 15 legislature committees in the State. While the members of the Legislative Assembly are elected for a five-year term, members of the Upper House enjoy a six-year term. The argument now being put forward by the legislators is that the tours educate them, primarily in the sphere of policy-making. It should be noted that the foreign tours by the legislature committees were organised without the involvement of the Indian missions in the countries they visited. It was primarily to avoid the “red tape” therein and legislators on tour also did not participate in any discussion with the local governments of the countries concerned. The trips to the State and Union territories within the country were, however, of a different kind since it was hosted by the respective State governments; discussions were also held with the officials. Within Karnataka, the legislature committees had an even higher reach, given the fact that they can raise a range of questions with the district authorities obviously aimed at what they call, serving the people.