Quite a few MPs are seen to be frequently absent from the house. The Constitution provides for disqualification of a MP if he/she is absent continuously for 60 days without permission. Hence MPs submit leave applications when they are absent for a longer period of time. In the 16th Lok Sabha, 46 leave applications are submitted till date.
Only a few Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Lok Sabha maintain a healthy attendance record.The national average attendance for the 16th Lok Sabha MPs is 80% as per the data compiled by PRS Legislative Research while the Lok Sabha met for about 230 days till date. Some MPs do submit a leave application when they are absent for a longer period. In the first 3 years of the 16th Lok Sabha, a total of 46 leave applications were received from 34 MPs of the Lok Sabha. These 46 applications together sought a leave of 1448 days.
Why does a MP need to submit a leave application?
Article 101 of the Constitution of India lays down conditions for declaring a parliamentary seat as vacant. One of the conditions talks about absence of members from the house. If any MP is absent for a continuous period of sixty days (60) without permission, the house can declare his seat as vacant. Hence MPs submit leave applications when they are absent from the house for a relatively longer period.
The MP is supposed to submit his leave application to the Speaker of the house citing the reasons for absence. One single leave application cannot exceed 60 days. All the leave applications thus received are referred to the ‘Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House’. This is a standing committee in the Lok Sabha. This committee meets and decides on each leave application. A suitable recommendation is made for each leave application. In practice, leave applications are never rejected and the recommendations made by the committee are ratified by the house. The committee is currently chaired by P Karunakaran of the CPI(M), a MP from Kerala.
46 Leave applications in the 16th Lok Sabha
Till date, 46 leave applications were submitted by 34 MPs of the 16th Lok Sabha. Out of the 46 leave applications, MPs of the BJP submitted 18 leave applications followed by 9 of the Trinamool Congress and 4 each from MPs of the Indian National Congress & BJD. MPs of the NCP submitted 3 leave applications while MPs of the YSRCP & PDP submitted two applications each. MPs of the JMM, PMK, LJP & CPI(M) submitted one application each.
Illness is the most cited reason
26 of the 46 leave applications cited illness as the reason for leave. 25 of them mentioned illness to self while one application by a BJP MP mentioned illness in the family as the reason. Nine (9) applications mentioned elections in their constituency as the reason for their absence. Two applications mentioned constituency related work as the reason while the four applications from the BJD MP mentioned detention as the reason. The BJD MP was arrested by the CBI in a chit fund scam. Another MP from the LJP also mentioned detention as the reason. Two other applications mentioned visit abroad as the reason for absence including one from BJP MP Hema Malini. Only one application by a Trinamool Congress MP mentioned multiple reasons in the application like visit abroad, marriage in the family and relief work in constituency. Two MPs mentioned ‘Death in Family’ as the reason for absence. Two MPs who applied for leave unfortunately passed away i.e., Kapil Krishna Thakur of the Trinamool Congress and Vinod Khanna of the BJP.
The committee recommended all the leave applications
The committee recommended all the leave applications received from MPs. In only three cases, it did not recommend the number of days as applied by the MP. In the case of INC MP, Amarinder Singh, the committee recommended leave for 59 days and asked him to apply afresh for the remaining since it cannot recommend leave of absence for more than 59 days at one go. Same was the case with the leave application of YSRCP MP, S P Y Reddy. In the case of BJD MP Rama Chandra Hansdah, who is in jail, the committee condoned 67 days of leave. In all the other cases, the committee recommended the same number of days as applied by the MP. The BJD MP who is in judicial custody applied for a leave for the most number of days (228 days) followed by BJP MP, Chand Nath (140 days). Six other MPs applied for a leave of more than 50 days.