New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The government’s decision to disallow the Question Hour in the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Parliament, citing coronavirus pandemic, is facing severe criticism from the Opposition which has accused the former of trying to muzzle the voice of democracy.

According to a notification issued by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, there will be no Question Hour during the Parliament's Monsoon Session which will begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1. However, zero hour and other proceedings will be held as per schedule.

The government has reached out to the opposition parties to explain why it will be difficult to schedule the Question Hour in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha Rajnath Singh has made calls to several several opposition leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress and Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress.  

As per reports, Singh has told opposition parties that if there is a Question Hour, ministers would need to be briefed by officials of their ministries and this would raise the number of visitors to parliament in Covid times.

Rajya Sabha member Derek O'Brien of Trinamool Congress said the pandemic was being used as an excuse to "murder democracy" in a tweet this morning.

"MPs required to submit questions for Question Hour in Parliament 15 days in advance. Session starts 14 September. So Question Hour cancelled ? Opposition MPs lose right to question govt. A first since 1950? Parliament overall working hours remain same so why cancel Question Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy," he wrote. 

Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday to mark his protest. "...raising questions in Parliament, and issues of public importance during the Zero Hour are foremost of the procedural methods available to members to vent issues of national and public importance," he wrote.

News agency ANI quoted government sources confirming that the monsoon session of Parliament is to be held on a daily basis with no break even on the weekends. Proceedings of both houses will be held on a daily basis. On day one (September 14), Lok Sabha will be held from 9 am to 1 pm while Rajya Sabha proceedings will be held from 3 pm to 7 pm. After September 14, Rajya Sabha will sit in the first half from 9 am to 1 pm and Lok Sabha's processing is scheduled from 3 pm to 7 pm.

Both the houses of the Parliament is to sit for four hours daily and every precautionary measure would be taken by the government in view of the pandemic.

Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman already held a meeting with officials and gave instructions in the presence of the Health Ministry officials regarding how COVID-19 guidelines should be followed in this monsoon session.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta