With Parliament gearing up for a “historic” session starting Monday in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, Speaker Om Birla Thursday said Lok Sabha and the government have to take a call on the election of Deputy Speaker for the Lower House.
Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury had earlier written to Birla for early appointment of Deputy Speaker.
Birla said his advice to chairpersons of Parliamentary committees over taking up sub judice matters did not mean imposing restrictions on any issues being discussed in these committees.
“I only said there is a convention that the House or the committees do not discuss matters that are pending before the court. The intent is to avoid any kind of influence on the judgment, as they are sub judice. That does not mean any ban on discussing issues,” Birla clarified, trying to put an end to the controversy.
His letter, reminding House panels that “as per convention, the committees do not take those those subjects for examination where the issue is pending in courts”, had sparked a controversy, with Opposition leaders and experts saying that there has been no hard and fast rule on taking up such issues.
Speaking with some journalists ahead of the monsoon session, Birla said holding the 18-day session is a challenge during the pandemic, “but we have to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities”. He said: “We want Parliament to become more accountable and answerable to the people. This session will be a historic one, being held in the middle of a pandemic. Our effort is to conduct the session as per guidelines issued for Covid-19.”
The session, scheduled to conclude on October 1, will see several firsts, including measures to seat MPs in a staggered way in chambers of both Houses, as well as galleries to maintain physical distancing norms; a four-hour session for each House each day (9 am to 1 pm for Rajya Sabha and 3 pm to 7 pm for Lok Sabha); seats separated with poly-carbon sheets in Lok Sabha; introduction of mobile app for registering of MPs’ attendance, among others.
Birla said the Zero Hour will be of half-an-hour duration and there will no Question Hour, but written questions could be asked and they will have to be answered. The timing for Zero Hour and the session could be extended if the House decides so.
He said 257 members will be seated in Lok Sabha hall, 172 in Lok Sabha gallery, 60 in Rajya Sabha, and 51 in Rajya Sabha gallery.
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