In the middle of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the 18-day monsoon session of the Parliament is all set to begin from Monday.
Parliament proceedings were halted on March 23, two-days before the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The session is expected to continue till October 1.
In keeping with government mandated protocols to ensure social distancing and sanitisation measures, the session will have many firsts including the sitting of two Houses – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – in shifts without any off day in between. A new seating arrangement for MPs has also been factored in to ensure safe passage of the session.
Monsoon Session of Parliament begins today.
▪️Session will be held in two shifts – 9 AM to 1 PM & 3 PM to 7 PM
▪️Rajya Sabha will sit in morning shift & Lok Sabha in evening
▪️Session will take up 47 items till 1st October; It will take up 11 Bills to replace ordinances. pic.twitter.com/oFGKWWEJTg
— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) September 14, 2020
Also, in a break from tradition, there will be no all-party meeting ahead of the session this time.
What has however got the Opposition going all guns blazing at the government even before the session has begun is the decision to do away with the Question Hour.
As per the plan in place for the monsoon session, Rajya Sabha chamber, galleries, and Lok Sabha chamber will be used to seat members. While 57 MPs will be accommodated in the chamber and 51 in galleries of Rajya Sabha, remaining 136 MPs will be seated in the chamber of Lok Sabha.
Four large display screens have been installed in the chamber to show MPs speaking and there will be seamless live telecast of the proceedings on Rajya Sabha TV.
Along with this, six smaller display screens and audio consoles have been installed in the four galleries.
Various Parliamentary papers including List of Business, Bulletins, Bills and Ordinances will be sent to parliamentarians only through electronic means.
Sanitation will be mandatorily done between shifts. Face masks are also compulsory for everyone within the Parliament premises.
The session will be held in two shifts — from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm. Barring Day 1, Rajya Sabha will sit in the morning and Lok Sabha in the evening.
Apart from following basic sanitisation protocols and social distancing in both the houses, ministers, MPs, officials, journalists and others entering the Parliament will have to produce a COVID-19 negative report before being allowed entry into the Parliament.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had said that everyone entering the Parliament premises complex will have to undergo COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before the start of the session.
NO QUESTION HOUR, ZERO HOUR CURTAILED
The Opposition is vociferously protesting the move to do away with the Question Hour during which MPs are allowed to seek answers from ministers with regards to functioning of their ministries.
Now here’s list 👇of 17 Bills this autocratic government has listed for consideration and passing.ONLY 6 have been referred to a committee for scrutiny. Plus 23 fresh Bills, including 11 Ordinances. https://t.co/RQ1veS0sAA
— Derek O’Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) September 11, 2020
The Zero Hour, during which MPs raise matters of public importance, will also be curtailed and there will be no private members’ Bill either this session.
BILLS TO BE PASSED THIS SESSION
The total eleven Bills replacing the ordinance are required to be passed during the ensuing session. They are:
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Prices Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
- The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Insolvency & Bankruptcy (Second) Amendment Bill, 2020
- The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020
- The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Salary and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020
IMPORTANT PENDING LEGISLATIONS
- The Pesticides Management Bill, 2020
- The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2019
- The National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2019
- The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020
- The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020
- The Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020
- The National Forensic Science University Bill, 2020
- The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment), Bill, 2019
- The Dam Safety Bill, 2019
- The Major Port Authorities Bill 2020
- The Code On Social Security and Welfare, 2019
- The Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2019
- The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019
NEW BILLS LIKELY TO BE INTRODUCED
- The Bilateral Netting of Financial Contracts Bill, 2020
- The Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Pension Fund Regulatory And Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020
- The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020
- The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Foreign Contribution (Regulation)Amendment Bill, 2020
- The Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Prohibition of Employment as manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2020
- The Multi State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Jammu and Kashmir Official Language, Bill, 2020
The Opposition plans to corner the government on key areas including the India-China border standoff, handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, state of economy and GDP.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh while addressing a virtual media briefing said, “We want a discussion in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the situation at the border with China, the state of the economy, the closure of businesses and the state of the MSME industry, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues like airport privatisation, the draft EIA notification.”
BJP GETS SET TO COUNTER OPPOSITION
According to BJP sources, the party has drawn up a blueprint to blunt the Opposition charges. Anticipating questions on the India-China faceoff, row over PM CARES FUND, COVID-19 management, state of economy, issues concerning migrant labourers and unemployment, the ruling party is getting its arsenal ready. A strategy has been put in place to counter all questions that may arise following the controversial Wall Street Journal report on Facebook.
MPs WHO WILL NOT BE SEEN INITIALLY
Home Minister Amit Shah, who was discharged from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi after post COVID-19 care, meanwhile has been readmitted o AIIMS for through medical check-up for 1-2 days.
Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, an MP from Wayanad, meanwhile will not be attending the Parliament proceedings for the first two weeks since Sonia, accompanied by her son, has traveled abroad for medical treatment.
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