The central government is planning to call the Monsoon Session of Parliament from the third or last week of August. The Monsoon Session will go on for about a month and will likely be over by September 23 (as per parliamentary traditions). During the upcoming parliament session, the government is planning to pass 11 ordinances from both the Houses. All of them have been approved by the Union Cabinet.
But holding the parliament session in the middle on an ongoing pandemic won't be easy. To maintain social distancing in both the Houses, speaker gallery, chairmen's gallery and visitors' gallery will be used for sitting arrangement of MPs, according to sources.
Earlier, it was speculated that this year's monsoon session of Parliament might be "hybrid" session - a mix of both "physical" and "virtual". Under this arrangement, some MPs would have been allowed to attend Parliament in person, while other would have joined via government's online platforms to ensure social distancing norms are followed by lawmakers.
This, however, would have required more detailed assessment of physical and digital infrastructure at the Parliament. Secretary Generals of both the Houses had reportedly told the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha chairmen that the current infrastructure was inadequate to ensure such an arrangement. Also, rules of the Houses of Parliament will have to be amended to ensure 'hybrid' session of Parliament.
Given the space constraint at parliament, physical presence of all MPs could also have posed several challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak. Hence, Parliament has decided to use speaker's gallery, chairmen's gallery and visitors' gallery for the sitting arrangement of MPs.
Social distance measures to be followed by members
Rajya Sabha has put in place certain measures to follow social distancing norms during the upcoming session. All members will have to maintain minimum six feet distance, presence of officials will be restricted and there will soft copies of topics that'll be discussed. Parliament functionaries will ensure adequate sanitising measures are taken to avoid the virus spread.
Amid this, committee meetings have already begun this week, with around 10 meetings of both the Houses announcing their schedule. As per the Rajya Sabha secretariat guidelines, ministries or departments appearing for evidence before the committee have been advised to restrict the number of officials attending the meeting. At a time only two witnesses and two supporting officials would be allowed before the committee.