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Several state assemblies that met amid pandemic did without Q-hour | India News

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NEW DELHI: Though Congress and some other opposition parties are demanding that there should be a question hour during the monsoon session of Parliament, the process has been suspended in several states where short assembly sessions took place recently due the Covid-19 situation.
Government sources said the latest state to do away with question hour was West Bengal. The move is quite in contrast to the demand raised by its Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien who called the decision to not have question hour “murder of democracy”. Since March, assembly sessions ranging from one to three days were held in Andhra Pradesh (June 16-18), Kerala (August 24), Punjab (August 28), Rajasthan (three sittings between August 14-21) and UP (August 20-22). Government sources said even Maharashtra was mulling a session soon but without question hour. One assembly passed more than a dozen bills in a day.
“There is a concerted effort to spread misinformation regarding question hour in the monsoon session of Parliament. Let some of the opposition members give answers to what assemblies have been doing,” a senior government functionary said as he questioned adoption of “double standards”. He said it should also be noted that there were no special mentions and calling attention motions in most assemblies that met in the recent past. The government will give written replies to 160 unstarred questions in the coming session. “This effectively means the government will reply 1,120 questions every week. Besides, every day, there will be special mentions up to 10 in number, and 10 zero hour mentions will be allowed by the Chair. In addition, the Chair will allow short duration discussions on issues such as Covid-19, economy and other important issues,” a Rajya Sabha source said.
It was pointed out that Parliament was meeting amid very trying circumstances and the presiding officers did not want to prolong the risk for all who attended. “This change is only for the monsoon session and the government has made it clear that question hour will be back in the winter session,” an official said. Sources said for the first time in history, the premises of both Houses of Parliament will be used for the running of each House. Rajya Sabha will be sitting from 9 am to 1 pm whereas Lok Sabha will function from 3 pm to 7 pm. The intervening two hours will be used for cleaning, sanitisation and disinfection of the premises.
This effectively leaves four hours each day for each House. Out of these, if two hours are dedicated to question hour and zero hour, only two hours will be left to conduct the remaining business. “This will be grossly insufficient as 20 bills and 11 ordinances will be taken up for discussion, debate and disposal in this session,” a government official said.

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