Lok Sabha: Speaker Om Birla asks MPs to remain seated while speaking, maintain social distancing

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Updated: Sep 14, 2020 2:29 PM

The 18-day Monsoon Session of Parliament began on Monday during which Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will sit in shifts without any break.

Opposition members, including Shashi Tharoor of the Congress and Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, opposed the bill, accusing the Centre of encroaching on the rights of states.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday asked members to remain seated while speaking in the House and follow social distancing norms in view of the “extraordinary situation” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 18-day Monsoon Session of Parliament began on Monday during which Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will sit in shifts without any break. While on the first day of the session on Monday, Lok Sabha is sitting in the morning from 9 am to 1 pm, Rajya Sabha is sitting in the evening starting at 3 pm. On the rest of the days, Rajya Sabha will sit for four hours in the morning and Lok Sabha in the evening.

It is for the first time in the history that both the Houses are being utilised for the convenience and safety of the members, Birla said, adding even some members have been allotted seats in visitors’ gallery.

Birla said that the seats have been allotted to members keeping in mind the social distancing norms and sought their cooperation for smooth functioning of the House.

The Speaker said it has been decided that members would remain seated even while speaking.

“It would be difficult for you all, but because of COVID-19 and on the advice of experts, I have decided that I will allow members to remain seated while speaking in the House. I know members will have problem, but I have no other option,” Birla said.

He said that the House has tried to bring in digitisation and and has drafted an app.

“Due to various safety protocols, I know there would be problems, but it is necessary to remain safe,” Birla said.

He said that although the session aims aims at bringing together the members of various parties, this time the social distancing has to be maintained in view of the pandemic.

The Speaker further said that he is aware of the problems being faced due to seating arrangements but asked members to follow their allotted seat numbers to ensure distancing.

“This time the session is being held under extraordinary situation and we have made arrangements for safety of members… We have allotted seats to members based on the total strength of their party in the House. I would request members and ministers to follow the seating arrangements which has been made keeping in mind the social distancing requirements,” Birla added.

He said with the Centre and state governments working together, the country would be able to defeat corona.

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