IT panel to meet via video conference

Tharoor welcomes approval by Speaker; no such order for other committees

April 20, 2020 11:36 pm | Updated 11:36 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. File

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. File

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has allowed the holding of a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Technology via video conference, committee chairman Shashi Tharoor said.

There is, however, no formal orders for all the committees to use this means.

The Budget session of Parliament had ended abruptly on March 23 and since then no meeting of these parliamentary committees had been held . Mr. Tharoor announced on Twitter that his committee would meet soon.

“Delighted to announce that Lok Sabha Speaker @ombirlakota has approved the holding of meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology by video conference. What could be more appropriate than for our Committee to set this welcome precedent?” the Congress leader said.

He had written a letter to Mr. Birla on April 17 requesting him to reconsider the curtailing of activities of parliamentary committees since the ministries continue to function with officials working remotely. “It is imperative that our committees also continue to meet periodically so that they can execute their constitutional mandates of scrutinising the activities of the Executive,” he wrote.

Mr. Tharoor said a number of pressing issues had developed even in this short duration for each of these committees to consider urgently and, therefore, it was imperative that they were allowed to convene and discuss such time-sensitive concerns.

Rule 267 concerning the functioning of committees says that ‘The sittings of a committee shall be held within the precincts of the Parliament House, and if it becomes necessary to change the place of sitting outside the Parliament House, the matter shall be referred to the Speaker whose decision shall be final’.

Bar on videoconferencing

As a norm, use of videoconferencing to hold meetings or deposition of witnesses during the meeting was barred. “The basic thing is about the confidentiality of the meeting and deposition of the government. Once the meeting is held through a videoconference, how will you ensure that the member on the other end of the videoconference is alone,” Labour Committee Chairman B. Mahtab explained the need for such a rule. He said that if permission was granted, he would soon convene a meeting on the condition of migrant labourers and the lack of safeguards for them highlighted during the lockdown.

‘Agriculture crippled’

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Parvatagouda C Gaddigoudar too said he would soon call a meeting. “We are going through a grave crisis and the lockdown has severely crippled agriculture. We need to assess the impact on harvesting and sale of produce. So I have spoken to the Lok Sabha Secretariat staff and we are looking for options on how to go about it. We will try to hold a meeting by May first week at the earliest,” he said.

Last week, Congress MP Manish Tewari wrote to Jayant Sinha, Chairman of the Finance Committee, urging him to call a meeting at the earliest. Mr. Sinha hasn’t so far responded to his request.

Mr. Tewari said there was need for a joint committee on COVID-19. “The time has come for Parliament to constitute a joint select committee that will help evaluate our response in a holistic manner and not just sectorally,” Mr. Tewari told The Hindu .

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.