Explore holding monsoon session in Central Hall, officials told

Economics Times,  June 02, 2020

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla directed officials to explore the feasibility of holding the monsoon session in the Central Hall of Parliament House and suggested that ways should be found to adopt technology for holding virtual Parliament sessions when regular meetings cannot be held due to any emergency.

However, the two presiding officers have turned down the request from some leaders to suspend rules and allow virtual meetings of Parliament panels, where the confidentiality clause is enforced, through video conferencing. The matter will be referred to the Rules Committee.

Chairpersons of some of these Parliament committees have begun the process of holding regular sittings as lockdown has been eased and air and train travel has started.

Naidu and Birla held a meeting with officials on Monday to discuss these issues. Sources said they have directed the officials to look at the suggestion of holding the Lok Sabha sittings in the Central hall and of the Rajya Sabha in the Lok Sabha chamber. The two House would sit on alternate days. ET had reported that this is in the works.

The two presiding officers are also of the view, said sources, that appropriate technology should be put in place to hold virtual Parliament sessions whenever regular sittings are not possible. 23 countries have held virtual sessions during the pandemic. Proceedings of the Indian Parliament are telecast live and no confidentiality is required.

Meanwhile, some of the parliamentary committees are in the process of holding regular sittings of the panels. Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Labour, Bhartruhari Mahtab has called a meeting of the panel on June 5 in Parliament House. “Notice has been sent to all the members of the committee and the labour ministry. More than 13 of the 31 members have given their consent to attend. Two members- one from Kerala and one from TN – have said they will not be able to attend,” Mahtab told ET. Three seats in the committee are vacant.

The agenda of the meeting is the Social Security Code and will cover the problems faced by migrant labour, amendments to the Labour Laws by some states, and employment related issues.

The Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the meeting of the panel is likely to be held in the second week of June.

Sources said Shashi Tharoor has sought permission to convene a meeting of the Standing Committee on IT on June 10. The request is pending with the Speaker.

However, Standing Committee on Home Affairs Chairperson Anand Sharma has postponed the meeting scheduled for June 3. Sources said the decision was taken as a few members expressed their inability to travel due to quarantine rules in some states. Sharma’s earlier request to hold the meeting under a “hybrid system” was not accepted.

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