President Pranab Mukherjee Friday expressed concern over the frequent disruptions during sessions of parliament and state assemblies, and urged lawmakers to fulfil their responsibilities towards the people.
Speaking at the platinum jubilee celebrations of the West Bengal assembly here, Mukherjee said he was concerned that houses remain in session only for a few days each year.
"I am a bit concerned about a few things... I feel we are decreasing the number of days of session of the legislature. The first Lok Sabha witnessed 677 days of session, while the 14th Lok Sabha had only 332 days," Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee blamed lawmakers for introducing "disruption" as the new element in democracy.
"Democracy has three essential Ds -- debate, dissent and decision, but unfortunately we have brought in a fourth D -- disruption," he said.
"When we are disrupting the house, we forget that we are causing harm to ourselves. We are not fulfilling our responsibilities. The responsibility of a lawmaker is not given, rather it is the lawmaker who seeks the responsibility from the voters," Mukherjee said.
He pointed out that even though it has been decided several times in the past that sessions of the house should be held on at least 100 days each year, it has not been possible to keep up that minimum number of sessions.
"A number of times it has been decided in speakers' meetings that the house should be in session at least for 100 days - whether in Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha. I accept the number of parliamentary committees have increased, but still, the more the house is in session, the better," opined Mukherjee.
Observing that the electorate has given lawmakers the onus of socio-economic transformation of the country, Mukherjee said that by indulging in disruption, lawmakers were not contributing toward strengthening democracy.
"There will always be divergence of views - that is the fundamental principle of democracy. The rule of the opposition is to oppose, but not disrupt.
"The constitution is not a mere document for governance, rather a Magna Carta for socio-economic transformation, and 122 crore Indians have given that responsibility to their elected representatives. And if we fail to fulfil that responsibility, we will not strengthen the democratic set-up of the country," Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee also noted that the Bengal assembly was free of disruption, and thanked members for maintaining discipline.