New Delhi [India], September 4 (ANI): The Lok Sabha Secretariat on Friday clarified that Question Hour has been temporarily done away with to avoid assembling of a large number of officials in galleries of the house in view of the need for social distancing.
"It was decided to do away temporarily with Question Hour due to extraordinary situation caused by COVID and to avoid assembling of large number officials in galleries of the House during Question Hour in view of the need for social distancing," Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a press note.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat further said that the change is only for the monsoon session and the Question hour will be back in the winter session.
"Holding Question Hour for one or two days is totally different from having it continuously for 18 days. This change is only for the monsoon session and the government has made it clear that the Question Hour will be back in the winter session," the LS secretariat said.
It further clarified that the government will reply to 1,120 questions every week.
"Every day, the government will be giving written replies to 160 Unstarred Questions in the upcoming session. This effectively means the government will reply to 1,120 questions every week," the Lok Sabha Secretariat said.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat further said: "Since March 2020 assembly sessions ranging from 1-3 days were held in Andhra Pradesh (June 16-18), Kerala (August 24), Punjab (August 28), Rajasthan (3 sittings between August 14-21), Uttar Pradesh (August 20-22). It is learnt that there will not be a question hour in state assemblies of Maharashtra and West Bengal which are slated to meet in near future."
There will be no question hour in the monsoon session of Parliament, which is scheduled to begin from September 14 and only zero hour will be allowed, sources have confirmed.
During zero hour, parliamentarians can raise matters of great importance without the mandatory 10 days advance notice. The question hour is the first hour of a sitting in which Members of Parliament ask questions from ministers.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had earlier said that he has requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to keep the duration of the zero hour at 30 minutes.
However, he said that the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman will take the final decision regarding the zero hour.
"Opposition parties are raising questions regarding question hour and zero hour. Arjun Ram Meghwal, V Muraleedharan and I had spoken to every party regarding this and except for TMC's Derek O'Brien, everyone agreed (to scrap question hour)," Joshi told ANI on September 2.
"I have suggested to Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman to keep the duration of the zero hour at 30 minutes. They will take the final decision. Govt is ready to have discussions on every issue. We have also requested the Speaker to take unstarred questions," he said.
According to official bulletins by Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, there will be no question hour and private members' business in both Houses of Parliament in the monsoon session amid coronavirus pandemic.
The monsoon session of Parliament is scheduled to begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1, without any day off.
Both the Houses of Parliament will sit for four hours daily adhering to coronavirus precautionary measures.
On the first day of the session on September 14, the Lower House will meet from 9 AM to 1 PM and sitting in the Upper House will be held from 3 PM to 7 PM.
On subsequent days, proceedings in Rajya Sabha will be held from 9 AM till 1 PM while the time for Lok Sabha sittings has been fixed from 3 PM to 7 PM. (ANI)