BENGALURU: Taking off from Parliament, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and Council will have all precautions in place to hold a session during the pandemic. Although only an eight-day sitting, there is a willingness to tinker with rules of procedure to ensure social distancing norms.
In an unprecedented decision, the Assembly won’t emphasise on legislators speaking from their designated seats. Only statements made by legislators in their designated seats make it to the official records of the House as per rules of procedure, but with the secretariat compelled to change seating arrangements, this rule will be suspended for this session. Access will be limited, while the public is prohibited from entering.
Many members, including Deputy Chief Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and MLAs of all parties have tested COVID-positive and will give the session a miss. Detailing the measures in place, M K Vishalakshi, in-charge secretary, Legislative Assembly, said 48 seats allotted to officials have been cut to 28, and only principal secretaries will be allowed inside the Assembly if a related subject is being discussed.
“Ministers will be allowed to bring one personal assistant on need basis. The lounge will be off-limits to everybody. Security personnel of legislators and ministers will not be allowed inside. Personal secretaries will be accommodated on the ground floor.”
Similar measures are being undertaken in the Council as well. Apart from police personnel at gates, secretariat officials will be posted to check Covid-19 certificates of all those entering the assembly. While mediapersons will be accommodated in the Speaker’s Gallery on the second floor, deputy secretaries will be seated in the Visitors’ Gallery.
With the assembly hall expanding in diameter with every row, precautionary measures are different for the first two rows. Since the last rows have ample distance between chairs, only glass partitions have been set up on joint seats from the third row, with continuous seating. The first two rows on the Opposition benches will have alternate seating.
Treasury benches will have parallel glass partitions between joint seats. All members will be given face shields and masks, and 50ml sanitiser bottles will be kept on each legislator’s table. The session also hopes to use digital space. Hard copies of starred questions will be presented in the House, while unstarred questions will be mailed to the members and media. All motions, notices and questions raised in the House will be put up on the Assembly website, officials said.
What’s on the Agenda
1. Government focus is on ensuring passage of key Bills, including amendments to Land Reforms Act, APMC Act, Panchayat Raj Act, brought in via ordinances; Opposition keen on rejecting these amendments
2. Got will withdraw Karnataka Municipal (Amendment) Act of 2015 and Karnataka State Universities Act, 2017, introduce Karnataka Lokayukta (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, Karnataka Urban and Rural Projects (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary (Amendment) Act, 2020, Karnataka Industries (Facilitation) (Amendment) Act, 2020, etc in the Assembly
3. Monday proceedings will include obituary references, Question Hour, including written and oral answers from ministers, 15 questions on flood-related damage, compensation for excessive rainfall, release of grants for development activities
4. Oppn to raise matters related to financial health, alleged misappropriation of Covid relief funds, alleged corruption in equipment procurement, among other issues