COVID-19: Officials to explore if parliamentary committee meetings can be held via video conference


Team Udayavani, May 7, 2020, 5:20 PM IST

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday asked secretary generals of both Houses to explore if parliamentary committee meetings can be held through video conference.

This comes in view of demands from various members of Parliament (MP) for holding such meetings through video conference amid the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

The secretary generals have been asked by Naidu and Birla to submit a report on the matter soon.

The Rajya Sabha chairman and the speaker met at the Uparashtrapati Niwas on Thursday and discussed the role being played by MPs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the feasibility of holding committee meetings.

In view of the prevailing situation and in the context of restrictions on travel across the country, the two felt that if the situation does not allow regular conventional meetings of the committees in the near future, alternative means of enabling such meetings can be explored.

“They have directed the secretary generals of both the Houses to examine in detail the pros and cons of Parliamentary Committees holding meetings by video conferencing by taking into considerations the present Rules of Business of both the Houses of Parliament, the practices and experiences of various countries in respect of such virtual meetings and the time required to enable secure technology platforms required for such mode of meetings,” a statement from the chairman’s office said.

The report of the two top officials of Parliament will form the basis for a considered decision by both the presiding officers in the matter, it said.

Several MPs, including some chairmen of parliamentary panels, have called for holding meetings through video conference, keeping in view the situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have also cited instances of some Parliaments including that in the UK functioning through video conference.

During the meeting, both Naidu and Birla noted that MPs are actively engaged in the fight against the novel coronavirus besides initiating welfare measures and supporting various humanitarian initiatives being taken up by both the government and the civil society.

They were happy to note that MPs are with the people whom they represent when they need them the most, the statement said.

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