With no written communication so far from the central government, officials of the two parliamentary secretariats are not yet sure of the date for the commencement of Parliament’s Monsoon Session, though they expect it to begin in the second week of September as it has to be held on or before September 22.
The last Budget Session had ended on March 23, and hence the maximum six-month gap between two sessions, as per the mandate of the Constitution of India, ends on September 22.
A senior officer posted in Parliament, requesting anonymity, told IANS that the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) will meet this week to decide the date for the Monsoon Session.
The government will also share its business details in the CCPA, which was supposed to meet last week but could not due to some issues and other officials’ engagements.
The official said that there is “no written communication” so far from the Union government to conduct the session of Parliament.
“It is known that the Monsoon Session will start any time before September 23. As preparations in the Lok Sabha regarding the seating arrangements are still pending, it is expected that the government may declare the date for the Monsoon Session in the second week of September,” another official, privy to the developments in the Lok Sabha Secretariat, told IANS.
Several Members of Parliament also said that they have got some inputs that the session is likely to begin in the second week of September.
There is usually a 14-day gap between the announcement and commencement of a Parliament session.
The parliamentarians, however, are not clear yet on whether the two houses will meet daily, “with the Lok Sabha session in the morning and the Rajya Sabha in the afternoon”, or on alternate days.
The officials in Parliament though have confirmed one thing — no guests will be allowed in this session and the media too will have a restricted entry.
It is learnt that the Lok Sabha authorities are still not sure if it can accommodate all members in the Lower House chamber at one go by maintaining social distancing norms due to sheer numbers of parliamentarians.
Arrangements to hold the Lok Sabha proceedings in different chambers are still under consideration of Speaker Om Birla and the Lok Sabha secretariat, and there is no decision yet.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had on Sunday directed for full preparations by the third week of August for the Monsoon Session, and the Lok Sabha is also expected to come up with a similar declaration by next week.
In the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Secretariats will for the first time come up with many firsts in the upcoming Monsoon Session — maintenance of social distancing norms while conducting the session to ensure safety of all parliamentarians.
Sources said that as per the arrangements agreed upon after several meetings, the Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries, and the Lok Sabha chamber will be used for seating the members of the Upper House.
As many as 60 members, including all Ministers, will be seated in the Rajya Sabha chamber, 51 in the galleries (leaving out the first row) and the remaining 132 in the Lok Sabha chamber.
The Lok Sabha authorities may use the Central Hall and the Balayogi Auditorium in Parliament Library to seat its 542 members. The Rajya Sabha strength is 241.
The Central Hall is used for joint sittings of the two Houses and the MPs sit there during breaks in their respective houses.
With a seating capacity of approximately 800, the hall can accommodate members of the Lok Sabha while ensuring physical distancing norms.
After the Budget Session ended abruptly on March 23 due to coronavirus fears, the Opposition has been demanding parliamentary oversight on government functioning and demanded a session on the ongoing crisis.
Meanwhile, large display screens, consoles for participation from galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables between the two Houses, polycarbonate sheets to separate seats are among some firsts the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been working on overtime for the last two weeks for the convening of the Monsoon Session.