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Monsoon Session likely in Central Hall; LS, RS to Sit on Alternate Days

May 27, 2020 06:43 AM

COURTESY THE ECONOMIC TIMES MAY 27

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO HOLD PARLIAMENT SESSION IN AUGUST-END
Monsoon Session likely in Central Hall; LS, RS to Sit on Alternate Days
Parliament has to be convened once in six months; both the Houses were adjourned on March 23
Govt considering possibility of remote attendance where MPs can watch proceedings, raise questions, participate online
Nidhi.Sharma@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

In keeping with social distancing norms, the government is likely to hold the monsoon session of Parliament in the Central Hall, holding Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sittings on alternate days.


The government is seriously considering holding the monsoon session of Parliament even as Covid-19 numbers are increasing. However, the government might push the session by a few weeks. Usually, the month-long monsoon session begins in July-end. Due to the pandemic, the government is planning to hold it in August-end.

According to sources, the government is looking at holding the sittings in the Central Hall, which has a capacity to seat 776 members of Parliament. With the need to follow social distancing norms and maintain a double arms distance between two MPs, the Central Hall could hold members of one House. A senior official of the parliamentary affairs ministry, who did not wish to be identified, told ET, “We could alternate between the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.”

According to the rules, Parliament has to be convened once in six months. Both the Houses were adjourned on March 23 before the scheduled date of April 3 as India implemented a complete lockdown. Though the government has time till September 23, it is exploring different possibilities to hold the monsoon session. “At a time of pandemic, MPs want to ask questions and seek explanations from the government. This is why the government is exploring different possibilities,” the official said.

Holding a monsoon session is also a part of a larger strategy of the Modi government to convey the “new normal” to people. The government has been increasingly pushing the idea that people would have to live with the virus and scrupulously follow social distancing norms. Holding a session, especially when the government had carried on with sittings in March despite the opposition, becomes vital.

The government is also considering the possibility of remote attendance where the MPs could watch the proceedings and raise their questions or participate in a discussion online. “While the proceedings are telecast live, so far there has been no technical intervention where members can participate from another venue in live proceedings. But these are unprecedented times, so we are looking at software which could help us in remote attendance,” said another official. Once a larger call is taken, the government would also put in place common measures, including checking temperature with hand-held devices, giving a facility to MPs to participate in the proceedings even from parliamentary party offices and not asking them to be physically present in the House.

The government is also looking at the UK Parliament where the House of Commons was functioning in April. There, the number of MPs physically present in the House was a bare minimum and a majority would remotely attend the House

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