The opposition leaders have slammed the BJP-led central government and accused it of stifling dissent and democracy after a notification said there will be no Question Hour during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
Also, private members’ bills will not be taken up in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, while the Zero Hour will be restricted, notifications issued by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats said.
“There will be no Question Hour during the Session. In view of the request of the Government owing to prevailing extraordinary situation due to COVID-19, the Speaker has directed that no day be fixed for transaction of Private Members’ Business during the Session,” the Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a notification.
A similar notification has also been issued by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament wil begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and said the government was seeking to reduce the Parliament to a notice board.
“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,” Tharoor tweeted.
He further added: “I said four months ago that strongmen leaders would use the excuse of the pandemic to stifle democracy and 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?”
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien said the Coronavirus pandemic was being used 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,” O’Brien tweeted.
There will also be no breaks during the session and both Houses will function on Saturdays and Sundays as well.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the session will be held in two shifts — 9 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 7 PM.
Several arrangements have been made for the 18-day Parliament session that would be held under the shadow of a pandemic for the first time ever.
Frequent sanitisation of the entire parliament complex will also be carried out, while arrangements have been made to sanitise various parliamentary papers as well as footwear and cars of MPs, officials said.
Frisking of people will also make way for touch-less security scanning, while thermal scanning will also be totally touch-free.
The first-of-its-kind monsoon session will see Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sitting in two different shifts, while special seating arrangements have been made for MPs in adherence to social distancing guidelines.
A new seating arrangement following social distancing guidelines has been prepared by both houses for their respective members. MPs will also be allowed to address the Chair while seated and wearing their masks so that the risk of infection might be minimised.
(With PTI Inputs)