The Opposition parties slammed the Centre on Wednesday for cancelling the Question Hour session in the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha secretariats issued a notification that said, there will be " no Question Hour and private members' business" during the Monsoon Session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Question Hour, the first hour in the House, allows MPs to ask the government questions. Moreover, the Zero Hour, slotted for members to raise matters of public importance, has been cut short to 30 minutes.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament is scheduled to begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1.
There will also be no breaks during the session, and both Houses will function on Saturdays and Sundays as well. The session will be held in two shifts -- 9 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 7 pm. Except for the first day, the Rajya Sabha will sit in the morning shift and the Lok Sabha will sit in the evening, according to the notifications.
Following the notice, Rajya Sabha member Derek O'Brien of Trinamool Congress said, "Pandemic an excuse to murder democracy".
In a tweet, he said, "MPs required to submit questions for Question Hour in Parliament 15 days in advance. The session starts on 14 September. So Question Hour cancelled? Opposition MPs lose the right to question govt. A first since 1950? Parliament's overall working hours remain the same so why cancel Question Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy."
MPs required to submit Qs for Question Hour in #Parliament 15 days in advance. Session starts 14 Sept. So Q Hour cancelled ? Oppn MPs lose right to Q govt. A first since 1950 ? Parliament overall working hours remain same so why cancel Q Hour?Pandemic excuse to murder democracy— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) September 2, 2020
During the 33rd (1961), 93rd (1975), 98th (1976) 99th (1977) Sessions— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) September 2, 2020
there was no Question Hour as these sessions were summoned for
SPECIAL PURPOSES: Orissa, Proclamation of
Emergency, 44th Amdmt, President’s Rule TN/Nagaland. The upcoming Monsoon Session is a REGULAR SESSION
My 3rd tweet today on Question Hour in #Parliament. More instances of sessions called for SPECIAL PURPOSES when no QH was held: 41st (during Chinese aggression), 201st & 216th (only President’s Address).Coming up is a REGULAR monsoon session of two weeks. So why the exception?— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) September 2, 2020
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that "Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy". He accused the government of seeking to "reduce Parliament to a notice-board and using its majority as a rubber stamp".
2/2 Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy. This Govt seeks to reduce Parliament to a notice-board & uses its crushing majority as a rubber-stamp for whatever it wants to pass. The one mechanism to promote accountability has now been done away with.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 2, 2020
1/2 I said four months ago that strongmen leaders would use the excuse of the pandemic to stifle democracy&dissent. The notification for the delayed Parliament session blandly announces there will be no Question Hour. How can this be justified in the name of keeping us safe?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 2, 2020