No Question Hour in Parliament Monsoon Session, Opposition says Covid-19 excuse to murder democracy

India Today, September 02, 2020

The Opposition hit out at the government and accused it of reducing the Parliament to a notice board after a notification by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said there will be no Question Hour during the Monsoon Session.

As per the notification, in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there will be no Question Hour and Private Members’ business during the Monsoon Session, news agency ANI reported. However, Zero Hour and other proceedings will be held as per schedule.

Monsoon Session of Parliament is scheduled to begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1.

Following the notice, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor accused the government of seeking to “reduce Parliament to a notice-board and using its majority as a rubber stamp.”

“I said four months ago that strongmen leaders would use the excuse of the pandemic to stifle democracy & dissent. The notification for the delayed Parliament session blandly announces there will be no Question Hour. How can this be justified in the name of keeping us safe?” Congress’s Shashi Tharoor wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Shashi Tharoor added, “Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy. This Govt seeks to reduce Parliament to a notice-board & uses its crushing majority as a rubber-stamp for whatever it wants to pass. The one mechanism to promote accountability has now been done away with.”

TMC MP Derek O’Brien said the pandemic was being used as an excuse to murder democracy.

“MPs required to submit Qs for Question Hour in #Parliament 15 days in advance. Session starts 14 Sept. So Q Hour cancelled? Oppn MPs lose right to Q govt. A first since 1950? Parliament overall working hours remain same so why cancel Q Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy,” the TMC MP tweeted.

Last week, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had written to Speaker Om Birla, urging him not to curtail the power of the members to ask questions and raise issues during the Monsoon Session.

In a letter to the speaker, Chowdhury said curtailing the Question Hour and the Zero Hour would not be in the interest of elected representatives, especially in the current times of Covid-19.

Monsoon Session from September 14, no break on weekends

Monsoon Session of Parliament is scheduled to begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1.

Those who attend the session would be required to follow the necessary coronavirus protocols, including getting tested for Covid-19 within 72 hours.

Top government sources told ANI that the Monsoon Session of Parliament is to be held on a daily basis with no break even on the weekends.

Proceedings of both houses will be held on a daily basis. On day one (September 14), Lok Sabha will be held from 9 am to 1 pm while Rajya Sabha proceedings will be held from 3 pm to 7 pm.

After September 14, Rajya Sabha will sit in the first half from 9 am to 1 pm and Lok Sabha’s processing is scheduled from 3 pm to 7 pm, ANI reported.

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