COVID-19 restrictions to continue for budget session of Parliament

The Parliament is expected to be convened in the fourth week of January. The Budget as a norm is presented on February 1

The budget session of Parliament is expected to be held under similar COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions, including strict physical distancing norms, that were in place for the monsoon session.

The Parliament is expected to be convened in the fourth week of January. The Budget as a norm is presented on February 1. “Even if the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine begins, with two doses of vaccine spread out over 2-4 weeks, the members can not be inoculated in time for the budget session,” a senior Lok Sabha official said.

For the first time ever, the Members of Parliament are likely to be seated in three different places — the Rajya Sabha chamber, the Lok Sabha chamber and the central hall — for President Ram Nath Kovind’s address at the beginning of the session.

So far there is no clarity on whether the Question Hour which was suspended during the monsoon session as part of the COVID-19 restrictions will resume in the budget session. The Opposition parties had severely criticised the government for suspending the Question Hour.

The Rajya Sabha chamber can accomodate 60 members, while the Lok Sabha chamber can seat 132. The remaining members will be accommodated in the visitors’ gallery of both the Houses. The Opposition members had expressed inability to successfully participate in the debates, especially from the other chamber. Many members flagged this during the passing of the three controversial farm laws in the Rajya Sabha. The Opposition members sitting in the Lok sabha could participate in the protest or even press for voting on the Bills.

The government had canceled the winter session of Parliament citing the COVID-19 situation.

The two sessions that were held last year — the budget session and the monsoon session — also had to be cut short. The budget session, which was scheduled to have 31 sittings, was brought to a close after 23 sittings. Similarly, the monsoon session could manage only 10 sittings instead of the scheduled 18.

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