Suspension of Question Hour triggers outrage

Opposition accuses government of using the pandemic as an excuse to do away with any form of accountability.

Updated - November 28, 2021 01:24 pm IST

Published - September 02, 2020 11:13 am IST - New Delhi

Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien in the Rajya Sabha.

Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien in the Rajya Sabha.

The government’s decision to suspend Question Hour in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament triggered widespread outrage among Opposition parties, which accused the government of using the pandemic as an excuse to do away with any form of accountability.

Floor leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urged the government to revisit its decision. Question Hour was an important instrument for both the Opposition and the treasury benches, he said.


“Delayed monsoon session of Parliament is one of special significance after the lockdown and phased unlocking. The proposal to exclude Question Hour is arbitrary, shocking and undemocratic. It is Members’ privilege and the very life of a session,” tweeted Congress’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma. 

Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party leader (Rajya Sabha) Derek O’Brien said that suspension of Question Hour would mean that the Opposition would lose the right to question the government. The number of hours in the upcoming monsoon session was similar to what was available in the pre-pandemic sessions. “The government says that they have allowed the Zero Hour in which matters of urgent importance can be raised, but one has to remember that the Ministers are not liable to reply to the issues raised during the Zero Hour,” he said.

He pointed out that there had only been four special sessions when there was no Question Hour. “During the 33rd (1961), 93rd (1975), 98th (1976) and 99th (1977) sessions there was no Question Hour as these sessions were summoned for special purposes — [passing of State budget of] Orissa, Proclamation of Emergency, 44th Amendment, President’s Rule Tamil Nadu and Nagaland. The upcoming Monsoon Session is a regular session,” he added.


CPI’s Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam shot off a letter to Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to protest against the decision. He said Question Hour and other instruments like the calling attention motion were integral to the democratic functioning of Parliament and had never been done away with in the history of Independent India. “By introducing these changes, the Government has effectively ensured that its accountability to the Parliament and to the people is done away with. This is especially problematic, given the life changing events that have taken place in the last 5 months across all facets of life,” he wrote. 

DMK’s Lok Sabha member Kanimozhi, in a tweet, said that the only message this decision conveyed was that “even elected representatives have no right to question the government.” 

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