Parliament Monsoon Session: Strict COVID Rules, 45 Bills Expected

This Monsoon Session of Parliament will see many firsts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4 min read
The Monsoon Session 2020 of Parliament will be held  from 14 September to 1 October.

The Monsoon Session of Parliament is set to start from 14 September and will be the first such session to be conducted after the coronavirus pandemic hit. The session is expected to go on till 1 October.

NDTV reported on Sunday, 13 September that no all-party meetings will be held before the session begins on Monday. This is a departure from the usual, and is perhaps happening for the first time in two decades, the report said.

However, there will be a Business Advisory Committee meeting on Sunday to discuss the agenda in the monsoon session, which will be “nearly an all party meeting”, Hindustan Times reported. At this meeting, concerns such as the abolition of Question Hour and the curtailing of Zero Hour may be raised.

Around 11 ordinances and 45 bills will be tabled in both the Houses, The Hindu reported.

This session will be one that will see many firsts. Here is a lowdown of what to expect in this Parliament session.

Special COVID Norms

In what is a first of its kind arrangement, the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha will have turn-wise sittings in order to maintain social distance norms.

On the first day of the session, the Lok Sabha will meet from 9am to 1pm, and the Rajya Sabha will meet from 3pm to 7pm. Zero Hour will be for 30 minutes.

On subsequent days, the Rajya Sabha will meet from 9am till 1pm while the Lok Sabha will meet from 3pm to 7pm, reported The Deccan Chronicle.

"A total of 257 members will sit in the Lok Sabha chamber and 172 in the visitors gallery of the Lok Sabha. In the Rajya Sabha chamber, there are arrangements for 60 MPs whereas 51 can sit in the visitors gallery of the Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha session will go on consecutively. Both Houses will have screens for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings. There are arrangements for having a virtual address in the Lok Sabha. The sound system has been integrated of both Houses for all to participate in the session," said Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

The speaker further said that all employees of Parliament will have to undergo a RT-PCR test for the virus.

“Attendance of parliamentarians will be recorded through a mobile app. There will be fibre-glass sheets separating their seats and those in visitors gallery will need to go to the podium on their turn to speak. Lok Sabha MPs sitting in the Rajya Sabha will have the option to use the sound system as it has been integrated for both houses," he added.

There will also be an attempt to use less paper and go digital by the parliamentarians.

The government had earlier decided to do away with the Question Hour due to lack of time owing to the new COVID rules, but after protests from Opposition parties, it has informed that written questions will be allowed in the session.

What Are the Bills Expected to Be Discussed?

The government has lined up 23 new bills for introduction in the Monsoon Session. Of these, 11 seek to replace ordinances, reported PTI.

One of the ordinances that the government intends to pass as a bill is one that relates to providing preventive measures against violence on healthcare personnel.

The ordinance makes acts of violence and harassment against healthcare personnel deployed in combating COVID-19 a non-bailable offence, with maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine.

Another ordinance that is set to be replaced by a bill is one that deals with reduction of MPs’ salaries by 30 percent, starting 1 April 2020. The amount thus saved will be used to tackle the pandemic.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 will also be introduced and will replace an ordinance, issued recently, that provides for the creation of an ecosystem where farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce, which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels.

Other bills include the the Jammu and Kashmir Official Language Bill, 2020 which seeks to make Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, as official languages in the union territory. It also provides for these languages to be used for the official purposes there.

According to a Lok Sabha bulletin, it will also take up discussion and voting on the First Batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for the year 2020-21.

It will also take up discussion and voting on the Excess Demands for Grants for the year 2016-17.

According to the document, the Multi State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to rationalise government role and increase the members’ participation in the working of the multi-state cooperative societies, will also be introduced.

The important Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 proposing the complete mechanisation of sewer cleaning and better protection in work, and compensation in case of accidents is also set for introduction.

Though the session is taking place while border-tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, the Opposition is unlikely to be able to the bring the government to the mat regarding the issue.

(With inputs from Deccan Chronicle and PTI)

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