Parliament begins return to normalcy, hosts House panel meet

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Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Published: June 30, 2020 2:21:46 am

parliament, lok sabha, coronavirus, covid-19, india lockdown, parliament monsoon session, M Venkaiah Naidu, Om Birla parliament meetings, work from home, indian express The panel, which has 26 members, met with 11 of its members present in the meeting held at Parliament Annexe. (File Photo)

The Monsoon Session of Parliament may take a while to begin as the government has not yet decided on a date, but functions of Parliament started returning to normalcy on Monday with a committee holding a physical meeting.

The Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes met and made important recommendations to various ministries, its chairman and BJP MP Ganesh Singh told The Indian Express. The panel, which has 26 members, met with 11 of its members present in the meeting held at Parliament Annexe.

This was the first physical meeting of a Parliamentary committee since the Covid-19 outbreak hit the country and the functions of Parliament. According to the Lok Sabha website, the next meeting of a Parliamentary committee is scheduled for July 10 — the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is to meet that day. The website says the agenda of the PAC meeting would be “Consideration of Memorandum No.1 regarding selection of subjects for examination during the year 2020-21”.

“This shows Parliamentary functions are crawling back to normalcy,” said an official.

On Monday, the committee on OBC welfare had called Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and four other witnesses to appear before it. “The panel has taken some important recommendations and action from the government will come soon,” Singh said.

According to the agenda, the committee was to take evidence from health ministry officials on “measures undertaken to secure representation of OBCs in employment and for their welfare in AIIMS and other central government medical institutions”.

Sources said the committee has asked the government to ensure 27 per cent quota for the OBC students in Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas. “The committee also wanted to extend this to the Sainik schools and state-run medical colleges,” said a source.

Meanwhile, sources said there has not been much progress since the last meeting on June 6 between Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla for reviewing options for holding the Monsoon session.

One of the options the secretaries general of both houses suggested to the presiding officers that day was holding hybrid sessions, as both chambers of Parliament building face space constraint to accommodate all MPs for a session while abiding to physical distancing norms and the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which provides cyber infrastructure for the government, cannot enable capacity for virtual participation for all members.

Sources said the government has not yet communicated to the presiding officers its desire to hold the session soon. “The session has to meet before September 23, so the government still has time. The Monsoon Session can be held in September first week too,” said an official. Sources also pointed out that the members also do not seem to be keen on coming to Delhi, which has a high Covid-19 case count.

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