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Coronavirus lockdown | Venkaiah Naidu, Om Birla discuss RS, LS meeting on alternate days

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu (left) and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at the Parliament House, in New Delhi. File

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu (left) and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at the Parliament House, in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Meeting of standing committee on Home Affairs, scheduled on Wednesday, has been postponed

The options of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha meeting on alternate days to decongest the Parliament complex and each moving into larger space to ensure social distancing were discussed by Upper House Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Speaker Om Birla at a meeting on Monday, sources said.

The presiding officers’ meeting to discuss the conduct of the monsoon session of Parliament comes amidst the Opposition parties’ demand of holding parliamentary standing committee meetings through videoconference and resuming the functioning of Parliament itself.

The budget session of Parliament ended abruptly on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two, according to the sources, agreed that technology must be adopted to enable Parliament session as a long term option as the pandemic might continue for some more time. They noted that since there was no requirement of maintaining confidentiality of the proceedings of the Houses, which were open to the general public besides being telecast live, virtual Parliament was an option to be explored.

For the monsoon session, which usually begins in mid-July, many options are being considered, a senior Parliament official said.

“We could move the Lok Sabha to the Central Hall, which has more space as it has been constructed for joint sittings of Parliament and can accommodate members of both Houses. And the Rajya Sabha, which has only 245 members, can be moved to the Lok Sabha chamber, which is occupied by 545 members,” stated the official.

This suggestion was made by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva also in a recent letter to Mr. Naidu.

A meeting of the standing committee on Home Affairs, scheduled on Wednesday, has been postponed as many members had expressed their inability to travel to Delhi because of varied quarantine periods. A request of the panel head, Anand Sharma of the Congress, that those who can’t travel to Delhi be allowed to join in via video link was declined by Mr. Naidu.

As per the sources, this issue too came up in the meeting between Mr. Naidu and Mr. Birla. The meeting was attended by secretary generals of both the Houses. “For virtual meetings of the standing committee, not only a safe platform has to be provided, we also have to look at ways to adhere to the rules of confidentiality of the deliberations in such meetings,” the senior official said.

It was pointed out during the meeting, the sources said, the presiding officers cannot supersede the Rules by issuing directions. The matter has been referred to the Rules Committee of both the Houses.

The oath-taking ceremony for newly elected 37 members of the Rajya Sabha has also been deferred as they had conveyed the difficulties involved in travelling to Delhi now.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 3:35:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-venkaiah-naidu-om-birla-discuss-rs-ls-meeting-on-alternate-days/article31724527.ece

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