Amid rising Covid-19 cases, Parliament’s Monsoon session may get pushed to Sept
Under the Indian Constitution, the duration between the end of one session and the start of the next cannot exceed six months. So, Parliament has a window till September 23 to start the monsoon session.Updated: Aug 04, 2020 03:01 IST
New Delhi: A September schedule is starting to look more likely for the much-awaited monsoon session of Parliament as the chances of safely starting proceedings in August appear to be thinning due to the continued rise in Covid-19 cases in India, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
India’s top legislative authorities, including Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, are keeping a close watch on the status of the pandemic in the Capital and elsewhere to finalise the dates for the session. An improvement in Delhi in recent weeks offers a glimmer of hope, but greater progress in the Capital’s fight against Covid-19, and some measure of control in other parts of the country may be needed to ensure suitable attendance by members, the people cited above indicated.
Under the Indian Constitution, the duration between the end of one session and the start of the next cannot exceed six months. So, Parliament has a window till September 23 to start the monsoon session, after the budget session ended on March 23, two days before a 68-day national lockdown kicked in.
Once the dates are finalised, officials involved in the planning of the session say they would require at least four weeks to put the arrangements in place.
“Monsoon session in August looks very tight. Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have discussed a couple of seating options with the government. A final view on them is yet to be taken. Once the Union Cabinet decides, it will take about four weeks to put in place necessary arrangements,” said an official who asked not to be named.
Logistical issues are challenge because scheduling the session will require special Covid-19 arrangements -- from the seating of MPs to ensure social distancing , to the timing of the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, which are likely to work in shifts to avoid crowding.
The session may be a short one, with lawmakers spread across different buildings and attending hybrid — mix of physical and digital — proceedings.
“There’s not a heavy business to transact. The priority of the government is to clear the ordinances promulgated in the past few months and the Opposition might press for debates on the Covid pandemic and the Indo-China border conflict,” said a second official involved in the preparations.
Officials close to Naidu said the Rajya Sabha chairman had secured isolation-related relaxations for MPs travelling to Delhi to attend Parliament or parliamentary committee meetings.
“Naidu told the home ministry that government officials don’t have to undergo isolation after travelling to other places. If they can be exempted from isolation for doing official duty, MPs too travelling on official duty should be given the same exemptions. The home ministry has agreed,” a third official said.
Giant screens to beam parliamentary proceedings, with engineers from the National Informatics Centre on call, and provisions for possible latency -- these are among the issues Naidu and Birla and their teams are discussing.