After the Haryana Assembly conducted its three-day winter session proceedings in a digitised format for the first time, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta Thursday said that about 98 per cent of the paper could be saved through the digital Assembly enabled through the National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA).
The NeVA application was launched during the monsoon session of the Assembly by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in August. The application helped the legislators use computers or tablets instead of reading the session’s proceedings and conducting regular business on paper. The MLAs could keep a track of the Question Hour session, Calling Attention Motion, Starred and Unstarred Questions, audio and video of the House.
“Last time, we had decided to convert our Vidhan Sabha into a digital state assembly. This session, we implemented it and saved lots of paper. As compared to previous times, for instance in terms of replies for the Starred Questions – 165 copies of the replies used to get printed; this time we printed only 25 copies,” the Speaker told reporters. The winter session of the Assembly ended Wednesday.
Only 10 copies of replies to Unstarred Questions were printed during this session as against the usual 110 copies. “For list of Starred Questions as well as Unstarred Questions, about 900 copies (each) used to be printed, this time we printed only 10, each,” Gupta explained. “We had received 57 Calling Attention Notices out of which we discussed 12 and 44 were rejected and one was sent to the government for comments, one adjournment motion was not taken and two non-official resolutions were rejected, two short-duration questions came up and we considered both,” Gupta said.
A total of 16 Bills were tabled, all were passed including a few that were to be repealed.
Giving further details, the Speaker said that normally on an average around 1,000 pages were used during sessions as they involved a lot of correspondence, including letters of questions to the Governor, the Chief Minister, the ministers, administrative secretaries. “This time no paper was used for this. The entire correspondence was done through NeVA portal.” When approximately 2,075 copies of the entire correspondence used to get printed, this time only 55 copies were printed and that too for the record of Vidhan Sabha which is yet to become 100 per cent digital.
“Vidhan Sabha’s entire records shall soon be digitised. Looking at all this, I can say that we saved around 98 per cent of the paper by adopting the digital mode. An approximately Rs 8 crore-worth saving is what is aimed,” the Speaker said.
About the conduct of Listed Business during three days of the winter session, the Speaker added that the business was conducted for a total of 16 hours and 25 minutes. In total, about 91.2 per cent productivity in conducting the Listed Business was achieved.
Replying to media queries on the flip-flop by the Assembly on Abhay Chautala’s Calling Attendance ding Notice regarding an alleged liquor smuggling scam, Speaker Gupta said, “A day earlier also, a similar matter pertaining to medical-bond policy had come up in the House. Discussion was not held on that because I said that Rules do not permit to hold discussion in the House on matters that are sub-judice. Same rule was applied to this Calling Attention, as well”.
The House, on the last day of the winter session, had witnessed disruption for over 40 minutes when the deputy Speaker who was in the chair, first allowed Abhay Chautala’s Calling Attention Motion and then did not permit a discussion on it when Excise Minister and Abhay’s estranged nephew Dushyant Chautala apprised the House that the matter was sub-judice.
“I would also seek a legal opinion from the Advocate General and Legal Remembrancer on the issue and if there is a requirement of amendments, we shall act accordingly. I shall be discussing it with the AG on what kind of sub-judice matters can or cannot be discussed on the floor of the House”.
On the Opposition’s accusations that the Speaker ‘deliberately’ did not allow the discussion on the issue, Gupta said that when the government brought it to the notice of the House that it was sub-judice, the chair did not allow discussion on it.
“If we had any wrong intentions, we would not have even admitted the motion in the first place. The Speaker has the power to disallow any Calling Attention Motion. If there was any wrong on our part, we could have even disallowed it in the first place. But, we admitted it because we were not aware of the legal status of the issue. When the minister concerned informed the House that the matter was sub-judice, we did not allow it to be discussed,” he said.
About three instances where the ministers were found to be submitting “incorrect information” on the floor of the House, the Speaker said that he had immediately directed all the ministers concerned (who were submitting the information in reply to the questions asked by members) to take stern action against the responsible officers. “The moment it was pointed out that the information pertaining to a reply given by the Education Minister to Badhra MLA Naina Chautala was incorrect, four officials of the education department have faced action,” the Speaker pointed out.
A deputy superintendent and an assistant of Coordination-1 branch have been placed under suspension while chargesheet has been issued against two more officials of the department for submitting incorrect information to the minister.
“In a separate matter pertaining to wrong information about the deaths due to spurious liquor, minister Anil Vij had assured the House that he would get an inquiry conducted and take action within 15 days. In another matter pertaining to deaths in sewers, minister Dr Kamal Gupta had also said that he would get the matter probed and action shall be taken against officials who had submitted wrong information,” he said.