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Monsoon Session of Parliament may go virtual due to COVID-19

Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha along with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla held a meeting with Secretary Generals of both houses to review the options available of holding a regular monsoon session in which MP’s are physically present.

Jun 10, 2020 12:26 IST
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Parliament House has been exploring the option of conducting its monsoon session in a virtual mode due to COVID-19. The virtual participation has been considered as the plans of holding sittings of Lok Sabha in Central hall and Rajya Sabha in Lower House Chamber can face difficulties due to logistical constraints.

Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha along with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla held a meeting with Secretary Generals of both houses to review the options available of holding a regular monsoon session in which MP’s are physically present.

During the meeting, the two presiding officers were informed that if social distancing norms will be followed, the Central Hall of Parliament and the Lok Sabha Chamber will be able to accommodate only a little over 100 members.

Key Highlights:

•  The secretary generals informed that even if the remaining members are accommodated in the galleries, space will not be enough to seat all the members.

•  The Rajya Sabha has the strength of 245 members while Lok Sabha has 545 members. The Rajya Sabha chamber which has already been ruled out for the sitting can only accommodate 60 members if social distancing norms are followed.

•  As members of parliament are allowed to speak in their mother tongue in the house, Vigyan Bhawan and the Central Hall do not have a simultaneous translation facility. Under usual circumstances, it is translated in real-time for the press and the other members through earphones by interpreters and translators.

•  The Central Hall also does not have an air conditioning facility for long sittings that could last throughout a day.

•  Naidu and Birla directed Secretary Generals of two houses to examine in detail different issues regarding the virtual participation of parliament members.

Exploring other options for Monsoon Parliament Session:

During the meeting, the Secretariat had explored the possibility of using the plenary hall of Vigyan Bhawan, which has been used for the official programmes of Prime Minister and various other ministries where there is a large gathering. But the plenary hall was found to be inadequate for accommodating the Lok Sabha members.

One other option that was suggested during the meeting with the two presiding officials was of allowing only those members whose participation has been required as per the items listed for business and who can be easily accommodated while following the social distancing norms.

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