New Delhi: In a significant decision, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has said that Parliamentary panel meetings can start, but with members maintaining a distance of 6 feet from each other. This relaxation comes after Unlock 2.0 kicked in on July 2.
“Ministry/Departments appearing before the committee may be advised to restrict the number of officials to a maximum of five,” the notification reads.
Gone are the days of carrying papers and bulky files. The new notification also demands that circulation of documents, if and when should be in soft copy format. Which essentially means it will be e-mailed with an attachment to the Members of Parliament. Parliamentary panels call different officials before them for clarifications. Now they cannot carry bags or files along with them, either, according to the new notification.
Meanwhile, before entering all members will be given sanitisers to clean their hands of any germs.
Reconvening such panel meets has been a longstanding demand. Even requests for virtual meetings were turned down by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.
But now, with demand for such meetings growing louder by the day, particularly by opposition leaders, this has been worked out. It will also work as a test case on the feasibility of convening a monsoon session with the physical presence of all members. Meanwhile, both Birla and Naidu have held a series of meetings exploring the possibility of holding a monsoon session of Parliament.
On March 23 this year, after TMC MP Derek O Brien went into self quarantine and another member MP Dushyant Singh was seen with singer Kanika Kapoor who later tested positive, a scare gripped the two houses. Following that, the Budget session was adjourned sine die prematurely. Ever since, the government announced a full lockdown except on essential services.