No Zero Hour or Question Hour in Parliament in next session? No govt confirmation but leaders criticise move
Modi government is mulling over suspension of Zero Hour from Lok Sabha proceedings. Some said Question Hour may also be suspended.
In what is being described as a jolt to ‘sansadiya maryada’ (parliamentary tradition), there is strong speculation in political circles the Modi government may do away with both Zero Hour and Question Hour in Parliament proceedings in the forthcoming session.
According to sources, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, to cut short the working time and “finish the work without unnecessary delay”, the Modi government is mulling over suspension of Zero Hour from Lok Sabha proceedings. Some said Question Hour may also be suspended.
While Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi went on record to express his concern over the suspension of Question Hour through a tweet, other leaders requested anonymity when approached for a comment.
“Disturbing media reports about Parliament suspending question hour. I would appeal to the Speaker, Lok Sabha and Chairman, Rajya Sabha to uphold the best democratic traditions. Parliaments across the world have been functioning fully. India should be a leader not a laggard,” said Gogoi.
NH mailed a questionnaire to Parliament Affairs Minister Pralhad Venkatesh Joshi and Ministers of State Arjun Ram Meghwal and V. Muraleedharan on their official e-mails on Thursday to ascertain the government’s stand, but did not receive any response till the time this report was published. We will update the report if we receive any response.
In parliamentary parlance, Zero Hour is the time gap between the end of Question Hour and the beginning of regular business. In simple terms, it is a time slot allotted by the Parliament when MPs are allowed to raise issues of public importance urgently. For raising matters or asking questions during the Zero Hour, MPs must give a notice before 10 AM to the Speaker/ Chairman on the day of the sitting.
Since Zero Hour is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure, it provides an informal way to raise matters without a mandatory prior notice of 10 days.
Zero Hour was introduced in the sixties by the ninth Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Rabi Ray with an idea to create a more informal way and opportunities for the members to raise matters of urgent public importance.
When contacted, an RJD leader who did not wish to be named said such a move would amount to “killing the spirit of the Parliament”. He declined further comment saying let the govt issue an official communiqué about it.
A Congress Rajya Sabha MP who too did not wish to be named criticised PM Narendra Modi for not respecting parliamentary traditions by using COVID-19 as a pretext.
“He bowed down, touched the steps of Parliament in 2014, but what he has done in the last six years is quite contrary...He does not respect democratic traditions and norms,” said the Congress leader, adding that “no official communication has come to us.”
Another Congress MP commented, “We heard about it but neither the government nor the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha secretariat have issued any official communication; it would not be pertinent to comment on it.”
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