Parliament to Have 30 Min Question Hour After Row Over Suspension

The fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha will commence on 14 September 2020.

3 min read
The Monsoon Session 2020 of Parliament is likely to be held  from 14 September to 1 October.

A Question Hour of 30 minutes duration has been permitted in the upcoming session of Parliament after a political storm over the decision to scrap it was taken, ANI reported on Thursday, 3 September. However, only unstarred questions will be taken up.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Wednesday, said that all parties other than the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had agreed to scrap question hour in the upcoming Monsoon Session and that he had suggested the duration of it to be kept upto 30 minutes.

‘Had Consulted Ecvery Party Before Scrapping Question Hour’: Govt

“Opposition parties are raising questions regarding Question Hour and Zero Hour. Arjun Ram Meghwal, V Muraleedharan and I had spoken to every party regarding this and except for TMC's Derek O'Brien, everyone agreed (to scrap question hour),” Joshi was quoted by ANI as saying.

The statement by Joshi on Wednesday came amid outcry over Government’s decision to scrap Question Hour, a decision the government claims was taken after having discussions with all the parties.

“It is not good that after agreeing, leaders start saying in public that they don't agree,” Joshi told NDTV.

Govt’s Logic Behind Scrapping Question Hour

Joshi told NDTV that he explained to each leader that for every question related to ministries, a huge number of officers are required to be present in the Parliament complex.

Each day in the Question Hour, there are 20 questions, which he said, presented the problem of repeated sanitation. But most leaders, especially the elderly, wanted that House be wound up as quickly as possible.

Protest by Opposition Leaders

Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien took to Twitter to register his protest stating that the pandemic is being used as an “excuse 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?,” his tweet read.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that four months ago he had flagged that this move cannot be justified in the name of keeping people safe.

“Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy. This government 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,” his tweet read.

CPI MP Binoy Viswam wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu saying, “Given that the duration of time of Parliamentary sittings is the same as it has always been, suspension of Question hour and Private Members business is unjust and must be reinstated immediately."

In a letter addressed to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, MP Viswam said that the recent changes to parliamentary procedures that were released on 1 September raises serious questions regarding “the intent of the government.”

“The Question Hour is an integral tool that allows representatives in the house to seek answers to specific questions from the ruling government. While the private member’s business allows members to introduce legislations and resolutions on issues of national importance that the government might not raise,” the letter read.

He urged Naidu, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, to reconsider these decisions and take necessary corrective action uphold the democratic principles of the Parliament.

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