With the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacting the functioning of Parliament, Centre had to change several traditional rules.
This year’s monsoon session of Parliament will not have the Question Hour, the Zero Hour will be curtailed to 30 minutes and no private members’ bills will be tabled.
There will be no Question Hour during the Session. In view of the request of the government owing to the prevailing extraordinary situation due to COVID-19, the Speaker has directed that no day be fixed for the transaction of Private Members’ Business during the SessionLoksabha Secretariat
In addition, there will be no breaks in the session from September 14 to October 1. The sessions will be held in the staggered shifts of 9 AM to 1 PM & 3 PM to 7 PM.
However, this decision by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats sparked a massive uproar with opposition accusing the Centre of stiffling democracy.
2/2 Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy. This Govt 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.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 2, 2020
Many even asking the Centre to reverse this decision and allow the regular discourse in Parliament.
In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, #QuestionHour is more pertinent than ever as citizens need transparent information. Suspension of this proceeding, undermines the role of opposition that is key to democracy.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) September 2, 2020
I urge @PMOIndia to reverse this decision on priority. https://t.co/yEG7Y0VteH
The Centre clarified and revealed that this was being done to ensure safety and well being of MPs. Centre reason that if the question hour is held, then officers from ministries will have to come to Parliament making the place crowded.
Centre also added that most of the opposition had in fact agreed to Centre’s proposal earlier.
Opposition parties are raising questions regarding question hour & zero hour. Arjun Ram Meghwal, V Muraleedharan & I had spoken to every party regarding this & except for TMC's Derek O'Brien, everyone agreed (to scrap question hour): Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi pic.twitter.com/dJlk4YpoVi— ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2020
In fact government has allowed for the provision to remain unstarred questions (questions are those to which written answers are provided by the ruling government) and presiding officers of both the Houses have been requested to facilitate the same.
With massive politics being played ahead of the parliamentary session, can the common man, who is already reeling under the pandemic anticipate any change or will politicians continue to make a mockery out of the legislative discourse.