LS Speaker approves holding of meetings of Parl panel on IT by video conference: Tharoor

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Yahoo News, April  20, 2020

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has approved the holding of meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology by video conference, senior Congress leader and chairman of the panel Shashi Tharoor said on Monday.

Tharoor had written to Birla on Friday urging him to allow the parliamentary committee to meet remotely, ’till such time as it is safe for us to once again use the facilities within Parliament’.  ‘Delighted to announce that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has approved the holding of meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology by video conference. What could be more appropriate than for our Committee to set this welcome precedent?’ Tharoor tweeted.

In his letter to Birla, Tharoor had said he has been informed that there are tools that have been developed by the government’s National Informatics Centre which will allow parliamentarians to take part remotely in the committee meetings, in a manner that is both safe and secure.  ‘This would allow us to, with sufficient notice, convene additional sittings of our Committees and offer an avenue through which we can once again deliberate over issues of national importance without any further delay,’ he said.

‘I am confident that in your capacity as the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha, you will recognise the merits of exploring this particular option and I would, therefore, be grateful if you could give this letter your most sympathetic consideration,’ the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.

Tharoor, in his letter, had cited Rule 267 concerning the functioning of committees, which highlights that ‘the sittings of a Committee shall be held within the precincts of the Parliament House, and if it becomes necessary to change the place of sitting outside the Parliament House, the matter shall be referred to the Speaker whose decision shall be final’.

Tharoor had also pointed out that given that Ministries continue to function, even as the majority of their employees work remotely, it is imperative that ‘our Committees also continue to meet periodically so that they can execute their constitutional mandates of scrutinising the activities of the Executive’.  Responding to Tharoor’s tweet on Monday, Congress leader and MP Manish Tewari said, ‘Congratulations Shashi Tharoor for reactivating Parliament.’ It is vital, standing committees on Health, Finance, Agriculture & Food, IT, and Commerce must immediately convene, Tewari said.

Last week, Tewari had said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance should meet to take stock of the country’s economic situation and suggest ways to come out of the financial crisis due to the lockdown.

In a letter to Jayant Sinha, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, Tewari had urged him to explore the feasibility of convening a meeting of the panel virtually to take stock of the situation. PTI ASK SMN SMN

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