COVID-19 impact: Winter, Budget sessions of Parliament may be clubbed

New Delhi, November 16

In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the national capital, it is being contemplated that a single extended session of parliament be held instead of separate winter and budget sessions, sources said on Monday.

However, nothing has been finalised and discussions are still in a preliminary stage. A final call is yet to be taken, but there are suggestions that a single unified session can be held in the place of two sessions in such a short span of period, the sources said.

The winter session of parliament usually starts from the last week of November or the first week of December, while the budget session starts from the last week of January and the Union Budget is tabled on February 1.

The monsoon session, which was held from September 14 in midst of the pandemic, was cut short by eight days and concluded on September 24 as, despite the elaborate arrangements made by authorities, many MPs and Parliament staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Several first-time measures such as staggered sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the use of both chambers and galleries to accommodate members while following physical distancing norms were implemented during the monsoon session.

The Budget session was also curtailed earlier this year amid the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General PDT Acharya said it is a convention to hold three sessions of parliament in a year. It is not a rule.

As per the Constitution, there should not be a gap of six months or more between two sessions.

If government clubs two sessions of parliament and holds only two sessions this year, then it will not be a violation of any rule, Acharya said.

The national capital had recorded its highest single-day spike of 8,593 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

On Thursday, 104 fatalities, the highest in a day in over five months, were recorded.

The rise in cases prompted the Centre to announce fresh steps on Sunday including a house-to-house survey. — PTI



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