NEW DELHI: Both Houses of Parliament may be convened separately during the upcoming monsoon session and chambers of both could be used to seat members to ensure physical distancing at the time of the Covid pandemic.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla met on Monday and discussed a new option for accommodating MPs for the monsoon session, which is to be held either late August or early September. They inspected the chambers and galleries of both the Houses to assess the seating capacity as per the physical distancing norm.
“The proposal considered was that members of Lok Sabha would be seated in the chambers of both the Houses while Lok Sabha is in session. Ditto Rajya Sabha,” said sources. The Rajya Sabha’s chamber and its galleries can accommodate 127 members with physical distance while Lok Sabha’s chambers and its galleries can seat about 290.
“Members of each of the two Houses who can’t be accommodated in the chambers and galleries of their respective House would be seated in the chambers and galleries of the other House,” they added.
Various logistical and technical issues were identified that need to be addressed if this option were to be exercised, like enabling the participation of the members of a House seated in the other House through audio-visual connectivity, audio facilities for members seated in galleries, simultaneous interpretation, taking vote if required, enabling live telecast and arrangements for media.
Secretary general of both the Houses have been asked to examine every issue to the lastminute detail for taking a final decision in respect of this new option after its evaluation against other options. As per rule, it is not necessary that Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha should be summoned simultaneously or on the same date. The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has also explored staggered seating arrangements for MPs in the chambers and the galleries for virtual participation of those who are seated either in the Central Hall or Balayogi Auditorium on the Parliament House premises.