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eSession of Parliament in the offing

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Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday held a detailed discussion on holding the ensuing monsoon session of Parliament in the context of coronavirus induced norm of social distancing and decided to hold an e-session.

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday held a detailed discussion on holding the ensuing monsoon session of Parliament in the context of coronavirus induced norm of social distancing and decided to hold an e-session. They have taken note of reports suggesting that the fight against coronavirus is likely to be a long haul.

Both the presiding officers have underscored the need to adopt technology to enable Parliament sessions as a long-term option to tide over situations when regular meetings are not possible. They have noted that since there is no requirement of maintaining confidentiality of the proceedings of both the Houses, which are open to general public besides being telecast live, virtual Parliament is an option to be explored.

Regard the ensuing monsoon session of Parliament, they directed the Secretaries-General to examine the feasibility of using the Central Hall of Parliament appropriately to ensure social distancing. The options to be considered include: holding the meeting of Lok Sabha in the Central Hall with the Rajya Sabha shifting to the chamber of Lok Sabha and the sittings of both the Houses to be held on alternate days. The two officials were also directed to examine in detail various technical and other arrangements to be ensured to enable smooth functioning of both the Houses.

Both the Secretaries-General briefed the Presiding Officers regarding issues connected with the proposed virtual meetings of various committees of Parliament.

These include providing a safe technological platform, complying with the rules of confidentiality of deliberations in such meetings and the difficulties in ensuring the same in case of virtual meetings, infrastructure upgrade to be undertaken to enable virtual meetings and the time likely to be taken in this regard.

Taking cognizance of the long existing rules regarding confidentiality in respect of meetings of the Committees and the implications of holding virtual meetings, Naidu and Birla opined that it would be necessary to refer the issue of virtual meetings to the Rules Committees of both the Houses.

With some newly-elected members of Rajya Sabha conveying to Chairman Naidu, the difficulties involved in travelling to Delhi in view of quarantine norms, he deferred administering oath to the 37 Members elected unopposed, earlier planned. This will be considered later.

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