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Monsoon Session of Parliament (12 September 2020)

Monsoon Session of Parliament (12 September 2020)

Why in News:

Monsoon Session of Parliament will begin from 14th of this month and continue till October 1.

Context:

Special Seating Arrangements have been made in compliance of the prescribed 6 feet social distancing norm necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Houses will alternate their sittings so that members can spread over both chambers to ensure physical distancing.

Background:

The Session will provide a total of 18 sittings spread over a period of 18 days (all the days including Saturdays and Sundays of the ensuing session will be working days) and a total of 47 items (includes 45 Bills and 02 financial items) have been identified for being taken up during the Monsoon Session, 2020.

The monsoon session, which usually starts in mid-July, had to be deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic that saw a sweeping federal lockdown from March 25, which continues to affect select sectors such as international travel, schools and Metro trains.

Summary of the Debate

Functioning of the session:

  • On the first day, the Lok Sabha will have proceedings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.From September 15 to October 1, it will sit from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Watch Live: Loksabha – Parliament Monsoon Session – Digital Women – Daring  ! Inspiring ! CourageousSimilarly, on September 14, the Rajya Sabha will sit from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. From the second day, it will transact business between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Members sitting in the house will be watching the proceeding on television screen.
  • The special arrangements have been made for the sound system, echo system that is sitting in the Rajya Sabha gallery, a Lok Sabha member can see the proceeding in fact even participate in the proceeding.
  • There is no recess, no holidays, no weekly off and the session will have 18 sittings.
  • Attendance will have to be marked on e-portal and the question hour is not there but the written answer will be provided but the condition is that the question will have to be submitted online with 15 days advance notice.
  • Private members business, usually fixed for every Friday, has been skipped.

Session of a parliament

  • The period during which the House meets to conduct its business is called a session.
  • The Constitution empowers the president to summon each House at such intervals that there should not be more than a six-month gap between the two sessions. Hence the Parliament must meet at least twice a year.
  • President shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • Similar provisions exist for State legislatures.
  • In India, the parliament conducts three sessions each year:
    • Budget session: February to May
    • Monsoon session: July to September
    • Winter session: November to December

Legislative agenda of the session:

  • Apart from the government agenda, there are 11 ordinances to be placed by legislation.
  • 11 of the 40 are ordinances which are promulgated between end of March having related to giving powers to the RBI,Regulating Cooperative Banks, Reforms in Agriculture, protection of healthcare workers against violence, etc.
  • Another set of Bills have to deal with health particularly women’s health. During the budget session, Medical termination of pregnancy was passed in Lok Sabha, the bill will now move to Rajya Sabha for consideration. The Rajya Sabha also has the Surrogacy Bill to be taken up and a bill around Assisted Reproductive Technology is set for introduction in Lok Sabha.

Challenges:

  • It will be a great learning experience for MPs and the only problem will be that only one assistant of a Minister will be allowed inside the Parliament building. So, that may be a bit of handicap for a MP.
  • One aspect we need to focus is security aspect, because there will be mask, etc. and there have been threats to the Parliament, that’s why both the presiding officer have been holding series of meeting with regard to security.
  • Many of our MPs are old school of thought MPs and they may not be well verse with the technology.
  • The session is expected to be short and the reduced Parliament sessions leads to less scrutiny of the government’s actions, and even that of bills and budgets.

Conclusion:

  • The 18 days session without weekends, without holidays, without private member bills, 11 of the ordinances which has to be kind of passed by both the houses of Parliament to turn into normal Acts on the ground is going to be huge task and thereafter, the kind of issues that are going to be raised, some of them are of popular concern people at large and some issue concerned India’s integrity and sovereignty.
  • This monsoon session is going to mark a history. The largest democracy is here to show as how about 800 parliamentarians are going to conduct businesses, about the technological aspect and the innovation that are going to be made there.

Important points made by the Guests

Ashok Tandon, Senior Journalist

  • The government agenda is going to be discussion on India-China conflict on the border and government is planning to initiate Suo moto, a short period discussion under rule 193 in the Lok Sabha and the rule 176 of the Rajya Sabha.
  • In both the cases, there is no voting at the end of the discussion. But the fact remains that the very outside of the session, in both houses of parliament, the opposition would try to call the government on this very issue which is very sensitive from the Indian and country security point of view.
  • Therefore, the government may in the business advisory committee in the very first day will propose a short-day discussion which obviously would be initiated by member from the ruling alliance and the reply would come from the concerned minister.
  • The government also has plenty of things to tell the nation whether it is because of the dialogue in Moscow with Defence Minister or External Affair Minister.
  • Again, the opposition would like to raise whether it is the fight against covid-19 or the flood situation, the regional parties also has plenty of issues to raise. So, short duration discussion, Calling Attention Motion, etc. all these motions will be part of the agenda on day to day basis.
  • As far as security of the Parliament is concerned, Lok Sabha Speaker Mr. Om Birla had very detailed discussion with all the health related experts and also DRDO and other security related agencies to ensure that not only the session is smooth but also all the standard operating procedure (SOP) are observed for the safety of elderly members and all the members of Parliament.At the same time providing a full proof security to Parliament house and all those who will be attending the Parliament session.

Sanjay Singh, Senior Journalist

  • For the people of this country and also people outside, this should be a treat to watch how India conducts such thing during pandemic and taking care of all the covid-19 protocols, mostly paperless.
  • About two dozen legislations are there to be brought in and decides whatever too many things are going to be discussed such as government measures taken during the pandemic, Indo-China situation in Ladakh.
  • Apart from that there are very important ordinances that have been passed during this period intervening between Budget session and Monsoon session. Some of the most important are like The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, Farmers Trade and Commerce, dismantling of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) that had happened there, etc.
  • The convening of this monsoon session is also psychological booster because we are unlocking various sectors and economies coming back to the track and metro has also started now. So, this is going to give also a psychological situation as how to maintain covid-19 protocol.
  • In this situation they are going to work very hard, coming on all the weekends and also the technology is going to be great enabler in this situation. But average age of Rajya Sabha MPs is 63 and the Lok Sabha is 54-55.
  • So, they adapting to the technology and also the papers, because there is large volume of papers churned every day and placed to every individual MPs. Now, they are going to access all those things online. So, the digital India thing which started with great deal of enthusiasm that also we see another manifestation of digital India coming through this monsoon session.

Mridhula Raghavan, Program Manager, PRS Legislative Research

  • On the agenda we have 40 bills for introduction and consideration and passage in total,
  • For the ordinances to be continue in force, they have to be ratified by the Parliament this session. Other than ordinances, we have the industrial relations, social security and occupational health and safety. They were with the committees and now taken up for discussion and consideration.
  • All the legislative businesses that is also financial businesses to be done, whenever the government would want to incuran additional expense, supplementary demand for grant is introduced. So, in this session there is also going to be discussion and voting on supplementary demand for grant.
  • It is going to take great deal of coordination between galleries and the chambers where the large tv screen is fitted, so members can still continue to observe the proceeding.

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