Sanitisation work underway before commencement of the first day of Parliament’s Monsoon Session amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
NEW DELHI :
IN A first, some Lok Sabha members attended the House proceedings on Monday while seated in the Rajya Sabha chamber as Parliament met for the Monsoon Session amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaker Om Birla said in Lok Sabha that rules and procedures have been eased to allow Lok Sabha members sit in the Upper House and Rajya Sabha members occupy seats in Lower House due to social distancing norms. While Lok Sabha is meeting between 9 am and 1 pm on Monday, Rajya Sabha will assemble between 3 pm and 7 pm on Tuesday. He said as part of the procedures, the chambers of the two Houses and the galleries where members are seated will be considered as part of Lok Sabha when the House proceedings are on. He said, this is perhaps for the first time that such an arrangement had been put in place.
While nearly 200 members were present in the Lok Sabha chamber, a little over 50 were seated in the visitors’ gallery located above the main chamber. When the House met at 9 am, the number of members present was less. But the numbers went up when the House reassembled at around 10.20 am after a one hour adjournment after paying tributes to former President Pranab Mukherjee, a sitting MP and 13 former members who died in the recent past. Unlike in the past, there were no Opposition protests in the Well of the House, which is otherwise a usual occurrence on day one of the session as soon as the House assembles.
A giant TV screen in the Lok Sabha chamber showed very few Lok Sabha members were occupying seats in the Rajya Sabha chamber. Benches which usually accommodate six members had a numbered sitting plan for only three. Glass-like plastic shields of varied sizes were installed in front of benches to protect members from coronavirus.
The shield also covered part of the members’ sides. The front seats of the Treasury benches on the right of the Speaker’s podium were occupied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting on a seat marked as number one, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on seat number 2 and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on seat number 3. The front seats of the Opposition benches were occupied by T R Baalu of the DMK and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress.
MPs allowed to speak while sitting in Lok Sabha
NEW DELHI :
FOR the first time in history, lawmakers participating in Lok Sabha proceedings that started on Monday for the Monsoon Session, were allowed to speak while sitting on their seats. The initiative was adopted to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Monsoon Session will continue till October 1. Allowing parliamentarians to speak from their seats by sitting, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said: “All lawmakers in this Monsoon Session will first speak from their seats without standing. The initiative was taken in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” Earlier, all MPs used to stand before speaking in Parliament.
It is a symbol to show respect to the chair. Welcoming MPs for the special Monsoon Session, Birla expressed happiness over maximum presence of parliamentarians on day one of the session. He said that all safety protocols have been ensured and maximum digitalisation. He also requested the lawmakers to speak briefly mentioning that the House proceedings will be held only for four hours every day.