The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “assurance” as a “guarantee”. Many questions are put to the Government in Parliament. The Government is able to answer some, while it takes a little more time to answer a few. For questions that take more time, the Government assures that the answers will be laid on the table of the House, i.e. the Government guarantees that the answers will be given in due course.

But long is the due course? Well, there is no time limit.

The Government has informed the Parliament that more than 55 questions are pending to be answered for the last ten years. In fact, Unstarred Question no. 3026 dated 19.04.1999 has been pending for the last 20 years!

The Ministers in the Modi Sarkar gave 3049 assurances in the last 5 years. Out of these, 1089 questions are yet to be answered. What is the reason behind the delay? The Government says the following-
“Information has to be collected from various sources like other Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State Governments and other agencies. There are some assurances which are dependent on Court cases and they can be fulfilled only after the final verdict of the court is given. There are some cases which involves policy decisions too large to be handled by a single Ministry/Department. All these factors contribute to delay in fulfilment of the assurances.”

Irrespective of the above, should it take very long to answer basic questions? Smt. Saroj Dubey, who asked the Unstarred Question no. 3026 on 19.04.1999 is no longer a Member of Parliament. Smt. Maneka Gandhi, who was then a Minister, and assured the reply, still is.

The Right to Information Act envisages punishment for failing to provide answers in a time-bound manner. Shouldn’t the same standard be applied to the Parliament? As for the question, here it is-

“(a) whether Government have conducted any survey regarding continuous oppression of those widows, abandoned and destitute women who take shelter in places of pilgrimage like Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi and Haridwar from all over the country;

(b) if so, the details thereof; and

(c) if not, the reasons therefor ?”




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