No ‘Q’ Hour in Parl monsoon session

No ‘Q’ Hour in Parl monsoon session
A session of the Lok Sabha in progress. (File Photo)
NEW DELHI, SEP 2 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 9/2/2020 12:18:18 PM IST

Oppn says Covid-19 excuse to murder democracy

Following backlash from Opposition leaders over the decision to scrap Question Hour from the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, starting September 14, the government has said it would allow “unstarred questions” -- meaning written questions that will receive written responses. The modification came shortly after the government’s claim that Question Hour was dropped only after discussions with opposition leaders.

As per the notification, in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the government said that there will be no Question Hour and Private Members’ business during the Monsoon Session. However, Zero Hour and other proceedings will be held as per schedule, it added.

All questions for Question Hour— the first hour of business every day when Parliament is in session-- have to be tabled 15 days before the session, but Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told news agency ANI that the government had requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Vice-President of India and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to allow MPs to table their unstarred questions. 

The government, however, said it is not running away from any debate and provisions are being made for allowing written answers for the questions put up by MPs.

While several opposition parties criticised the move, sources said that provisions are being made to facilitate written answers to questions from the members of both the houses.

Opposition leaders accused the government of trying to “murder the democracy” in the name of the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing “Parliament to a notice board”.

BJP also took a swipe at the Congress over its criticism of the Union government for not having the Question Hour, saying it is amusing to see that those who “don’t have power” to question their own party president are creating a “fake narrative” on this issue.

In separate notifications, the two secretariats said there will be no breaks as well during the session to be held from September 14 to October 1, 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 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Except for the first day, the Rajya Sabha will sit in the morning shift and the Lok Sabha will sit in the evening, according to the notifications.

Further, Joshi also said he has requested the heads of the two Houses to keep the duration of Zero Hour to 30 minutes. Unlike Question Hour, members can raise any current issue related to any ministry for discussion during the Zero Hour. But the minister concerned is not bound to respond.

“They will take the final decision. The government is ready to have a discussion on every issue,” Joshi said. Underlining that the monsoon session is being held in unprecedented circumstances in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joshi said officers from ministries would have to come to Parliament if the Question Hour is held and that can make the place crowded.


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