Govt moves to block MP query on fall in India democracy index rank

The government has written to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to disallow an MP’s provisionally accepted question (PAQ) in the Upper House on the ‘Position of India in Democracy Index’, seeking the reason why India slid to the 53rd position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, The Indian Express has learnt.

The question, scheduled for a response on February 10, had been asked by TMC MP Shanta Chhetri.

She wanted the Minister of External Affairs to cite the reasons for India’s slide to the 53rd position in the EIU Democracy Index, whether the government was aware that it reflected India in poor light, and whether the government had taken steps to improve India’s ranking.

In a letter to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs was said to have pointed out that the same question had been disallowed by the Ministry of Law & Justice during the monsoon session in July last year.

The MEA, it is learnt, said it had requested the Ministry of Law & Justice to accept the question but the latter, while accepting the question, wrote to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to disallow it.

Last year, the government tried to engage with the EIU, headquartered in London, after the Democracy Index categorised India as a “flawed democracy”.

This was stated in a letter from the Law ministry to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on July 15, seeking to disallow the same question saying it was sensitive in nature.

The Law ministry also said that EIU’s methodology on the rankings were not shared with the ministry after it reached out. It noted that the rankings were arrived at without consulting government agencies.

According to Rajya Sabha rules, the admissibility of notice given by members in respect of questions in Rajya Sabha is governed by Rules 47-50 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Council of States (Rajya Sabha).

The Law ministry had referred to the rule: “(XV) it shall not ask for information on trivial matters; (XVIII) it shall not raise matters under the control of bodies or persons not primarily responsible to the Government of India.”

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