New Parliament Building And Flats For Indian MPs

With a new Parliament building and new flats for the Members of Parliament in India, let us look at their importance and the reaction.

With the announcement of a new Parliament building and new flats ready for the Members of Parliament in India, let us look at their importance and the reaction.

Crux of the Matter

New Parliament
On 10 December 2020, PM Modi laid the stone for the new Parliament building. The building is a part of the Central Vista Project, which would cost a total of ₹20,000 crores. The current Parliament, designed by Edwin Lutyens, was completed in January 1927; it would be converted into a museum now.

The new building would be constructed by Tata Projects Limited. It would include regional artwork from all over India and would have a library, multiple committee rooms, a new Constitution Hall, etc.

The new construction has been praised for enhanced audio-visual facilities, seating arrangements, emergency provisions, structural safety standards, etc. However, it has drawn criticism in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic and its severe impact on the economy and healthcare.

Why a 1,000-crore new Parliament when half of India is hungry, losing livelihood due to coronavirus. When thousands died as the Great Wall of China was being built, the rulers said it was to protect people. To protect whom are you building the Rs1,000-crore Parliament? Please answer my honourable elected PM.

Kamal Haasan, Actor and Founder of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM)

Flats Replace Bungalows For MPs

  • 23 Nov 2020: PM Modi virtually inaugurated new flats for Members of Parliament.
  • Located on Dr BD Marg, New Delhi.
  • Construction completed with 14% savings of sanctioned cost and without delay.

Specifications Of The Flat
Green Building norms have been followed in the buildings including:

  • Bricks made from “fly ash and construction and demolition waste”.
  • Double-glazed windows for “thermal insulation and energy efficiency”.
  • Rainwater harvesting system and rooftop solar plant.

‘Flat Off’ On Area

  • 8 bungalows (over 80 years old) were “redeveloped” to build 76 flats in place, which PM Modi inaugurated.
  • India currently has 788 MPs (543 Lok Sabha and 245 Rajya Sabha).
  • Similar flat development would reduce the residential area occupied by MPs by 9.5 times.

  • Edwin Lutyens, in collaboration with Sir Herbert Baker, was responsible for the construction of the India Gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Robert Tor Russell designed Teen Murti Bhavan, the Eastern and Western Courts on Janpath 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, Safdarjung Airport, National Stadium, Delhi, and several colonial mansions and the Connaught Place.
  • Indian Parliament has similarities with 64 Yogini temples of Morena, Madhya Pradesh. The temple was built in the 11th century.

25 Bills Passed In The 3rd Shortest Rajya Sabha Session

25 Bills Passed In The 3rd Shortest Rajya Sabha Session

One of the shortest sessions of the Rajya Sabha turned out to be one of the most efficient as 25 bills were passed in the recent monsoon session. However, already in controversy over the removal of Question Hour, the session generated more heat in its course due to the passing of some notable bills.

Crux of the Matter

Short And ‘Efficient’ Session
The 252nd session of Rajya Sabha was adjourned on 23 September 2020, with the monsoon session starting on 14 September but ending early from the expected date of 1 October. Only 10 sittings occurred instead of the scheduled 18, with the growing rate of Covid-19 being cited as the reason for such an abrupt ending.

It was the 2nd shortest Rajya Sabha monsoon session as the 110th session of July 1979 and the 187th session of October 1999 had 6 six sittings each (both monsoon). Overall, it was the 3rd shortest session as it ranks behind the 111th session which had only 1 sitting on August 20, 1979, and the other 2 mentioned above. 25 bills were passed and 6 bills were introduced in this session, which registered 100.47% productivity. However, controversy occurred during this session due to the removal of the Question Hour as well as the passing of the Farm Bills.

Following are some of the major bills passed by Rajya Sabha:

Labour Bills
3 bills were passed under the group, which were:

  • The Industrial Relations Code, 2020
  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH)
  • The Social Security Code, 2020

Following changes would be brought by the bills:

  • Firms with up to 300 workers would be allowed to dismiss staff without Government approval. Earlier, any firm with more than 100 workers had to seek permission from the Government to do so.
  • Employee Provident Fund Organisation benefits would be provided to firms with 20 or more workers as well as the self-employed people.
  • Unions would be required to provide 60 days’ notice prior to a strike.
  • Universal Social Security has been announced for both the “organised and unorganised” sectors, while a “Social Security Fund” would be set up for 40 crore workers from the unorganised sector.
  • Only 1 licence would be required under the OSH for hiring across different places instead of the earlier practice of requiring multiple licences.

Critics have claimed that the amendments are similar to the changes brought in Uttar Pradesh in May 2020, when the state suspended several labour laws including the Minimum Wages Act, the Maternity Benefit Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, etc for 3 years

Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • The Amendment brings co-operative banks under RBI supervision.
  • The aim of such a step is to prevent a crisis like the recent Punjab and Maharashtra (PMC) Co-operative Bank one.
  • 51% of members of the Board of Directors of co-operative banks are now required to have knowledge/experience in banking, law, economics, etc. RBI now has the authority to remove the directors and appoint adequate personnel. if the Board does not follow the mentioned requirements.
  • The Amendment would not be applicable to “primary agricultural credit societies and co-operative land mortgage banks”.

Jammu And Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020
The bill added ‘Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi’ languages to the list of the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, only Urdu and English were the official languages.

Other Bills Passed By Rajya Sabha

  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed after the 2 farm bills. It removed cereals, potatoes, onions etc from “essential commodities” list while also removing the restrictions on their storage. The farm bills allow farmers to sell to private buyers and industries besides the APMC ‘mandis’.
  • The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed, which converted agencies like DGCA, AAIB and BCAS into statutory bodies while granting them more authority.
  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) Bill, 2020 was approved. The Bill tightened measures regarding the use of foreign funds by NGOs as well as the penalties levied on their misuse.
  • The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who presides over its sessions. Venkaiah Naidu is the current Vice President of India.
  • A bicameral legislature has legislators in two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group, and from some legislatures that have three or more separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. As of 2015, about 40% of the world’s national legislatures are bicameral, and about 60% are unicameral.
  • Sansad Marg is a street located in New Delhi, India. The street gets its name from the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan).

Parliament’s Question Hour In Question

Parliament's Question Hour In Question

Among the several changes applied for the Monsoon session of the Parliament, the removal of the Question Hour and the shortening of the Zero Hour have generated controversy as the notable features of Indian democracy have been put in dire straits.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Announcement
Monsoon session of the Indian Parliament would be held between September 14 and October 1 this year. While the Parliament usually starts by July for the session, this time it was shut down since 25 March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Major Changes For The Season

  • For the monsoon session, the Question Hour has been removed. Only written answers would be provided by the concerned ministries.
  • Zero Hour would be restricted in both the Lok Sabha (LS) and the Rajya Sabha (RS) to 30 minutes duration.
  • No weekend off for the Parliament this session.
  • New timings:
    Rajya Sabha (RS): 9 am – 1 pm
    Lok Sabha (LS): 3 pm – 7 pm.
  • Only select media staff would be allowed to “record the daily proceedings”.
  • MPs now allowed to wear masks inside the Parliament.
  • Proper ventilation would be kept in the Parliament to prevent Covid-19 spread.
  • Sanitisation would be managed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

What Is Question Hour?
Question hour is a 1-hour slot in parliamentary discussion, where MPs ask questions to the concerned ministries. These questions are replied with vital information and facts, with action also being initiated on the issue if required. An MP desiring to ask a question has to submit a notice usually between 10 to 21 days prior to the session. The admitted questions are asked by the MP on the allotted day with the Minister giving an oral reply. The MP is then allowed 2 supplementary questions.

The limits on the number of questions asked in a session are 20 for Starred (requiring oral answer) questions, and usually 230 (not exceeding 255) for Unstarred (requiring written answer) questions. Question hour has been suspended thrice in the history of India: 1962 (during the Indo-China war), 1971 (during the Indo-Pak war), and 1975-77 (during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi).

Short notice questions can be asked on a notice of fewer than 10 days provided it mentions the reason for such short time request. The Question Hour has been broadcasted to the public since 1991 and occurs on all days of session in both LS and RS Houses except when the President addresses MPs from both Houses (when the new LS and new Parliament year begins) or when the Finance Minister presents the Budget.

Reactions To Question Hour Removal

Opposition MPs lose right to question govt. A first since 1950? Parliament overall working hours remain same so why cancel Question Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy.

Derek O’Brien, MP Rajya Sabha, TMC

Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy. The one mechanism to promote accountability has now been done away with.

Shashi Tharoor, MP Lok Sabha, Congress

It is far-fetched and too dramatic to say that this is being done by the government to evade questions. This is simply a case of extraordinary measures for extraordinary times.

Anil Baluni, MP Rajya Sabha, BJP

What Is Zero Hour?
Zero Hour is a time slot immediately after the Question Hour. It allows MPs to raise “matters of urgent public importance”. 20 matters are allowed to be raised in a session. This practice has been in existence since 1962. An MP desiring to ask a question has to provide notice to the Speaker before the session starts.

Mundhra Scam

  • The discovery of the Mundhra scam (1957) has been cited as a notable achievement of Question Hour.
  • 4 September 1957: Congress MP Ram Subhag Singh asked unstarred question regarding LIC’s investment of ₹1 crore “in a private enterprise in Kanpur”.
  • 29 November, 1957: Singh asked a starred question on the issue.
  • 16 December, 1957: Congress MP Feroze Gandhi raised debate on the issue.
  • The committee led by Justice MC Chagla found that the amount was invested in companies of a businessman Haridas Mundhra. The scandal led to the resignation of the then Finance Minister T T Krishnamachari.
  • Oral Questions occurs each sitting day in the House of Commons of Canada, in which members of the parliament ask questions to government ministers. The process is very similar to the Indian parliament’s question hour.
  • In 1974, a licence scandal was unearthed during question hour. A memorandum allegedly signed by 21 MPs were submitted by traders of Puducherry to the Union Commerce Ministry to grant licenses for importing various items. The signatures were forged on the behest of Indira Gandhi’s key aide, Lalit Narain Mishra.
  • Japan held its first question time on 10 November, 1999; the first question asked to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was “Prime Minister, what did you have for breakfast this morning?”.

Parliament Planning WFH?

Indian Parliament

Across the world, governments are opting for conducting parliament meetings virtually due to the health crisis triggered by Coronavirus. With the parliamentary affairs ministry proposing a virtual parliament or WFH, India also seems to be mulling over the same.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Proposal to WFH
With the parliamentary affairs ministry putting a proposal for WFH, the Indian government has sought out a virtual private network to carry out the same. However, WFH may have a heightened threat of cyber attacks. Sensitive information could be leaked, posing a threat to national security. Thus, the government is looking for multi-factor authentication, malware protection, and end-to-end security features to be ensured.

Moreover, the National Informatics Centre and Home Ministry said that no classified documents will be allowed to be accessed during WFH. It is likely that the Finance Ministry will have to bear the burden of buying new laptops and internet services charges. It is expected that decision regarding WFH will be finalized by the end of this month.

Rajya Sabha Election
Rajya Sabha (RS) by-elections for 24 seats will be held on 19 June. Of them, 18 seats are from the elections which were deferred due to lockdown, and the rest of them vacated in June and July.

4 RS seats each from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, 3 each from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, 2 from Jharkhand, and 1 seat each from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.

Election Process

  • Total 250 seats in RS
  • 238 members elected by MLAs of various States and UTs
  • 12 members nominated by the President
  • A permanent elected member serves for 6 years
  • One-third Members of RS retire after every second year
  • An RS member is indirectly elected by members of the Legislative Assembly of that State and by the members of the Electoral College for a UT
  • By-elections: The election held to fill a vacancy of members arising by any means before the expiration of their term of office
  • The elected member in by-election serves for the remaining term of the member whose the seat is filled

  • India’s Parliament was designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker in 1912-1913. It is said that the circular structure of the 11th-century Chausath Yogini Temple may have inspired the design of the building. Construction of the Parliament House began in 1921 and it was completed in 1927.
  • The central hall of Parliament is of immense historical importance. The official power transfer from Britain to India took place in the central hall. Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech, Tryst with Destiny was also delivered in the hall on the eve of 15th August 1947.
  • The Parliament of India is divided into two houses. Lok Sabha’s (Lower House) carpet is green in color which represents that India is an agrarian land and the people here are elected from grass root level. Rajya Sabha’s (Upper House) carpet is red in color which denotes royalty and also tells about the sacrifice done by the freedom fighters.

Budget Session Phase 2 Clocks 80% Productivity; Curtailed due to Coronavirus

The Parliament met on 2nd March 2020 for the phase 2 of the budget session after a short break. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha clocked 86% and 74% productivity respectively until the budget session was called off on March 23, 12 days before schedule due to the growing fears of Coronavirus pandemic.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Complete Coverage: Parliament Budget Session 1st Innings Plays Out With Bouquets And Brickbats

Day 10
On 2nd March, Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which proposes to increase the time period for termination from 12 to 20 weeks and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to regulate the mining sector in India was introduced in Lok Sabha as the Budget Session 2.0 began.

Rajya Sabha began discussions on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020  and the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019.

Day 11
On March 3, The Banking Regulation Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha. The Bill would keep certain types of agricultural credit societies outside the ambit of the 1949 Banking Regulation Act and strengthen cooperative banks. Clause-by-clause voting on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Lok Sabha but the house was adjourned without passage of the bill due to repeated disruptions.

Day 12
On March 4, the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was passed with amendments in the Budget Session. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The Standing Committee on Finance presented its report on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 in both the houses. It recommended using the process of delegated legislation through the formulation of rules by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.

3 members expressed their dissent for the provision that homebuyers could initiate insolvency proceedings against builders only if the resolution application is jointly filed by at least 10% of homebuyers on the same project.

Day 13
On March 5, Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan informed both the houses of the government’s steps for universal screening of all international passengers entering India to tackle the Coronavirus. Many MPs highlighted the issue of fake news being circulated over social media and also overpricing of masks and hand sanitizers.

Under Rule 374, the Lok Sabha suspended 7 Congress MPs for the remaining Budget session for their unruly behaviour and misconduct of snatching papers from the Speaker’s table. The 7 MPs are namely Gaurav Gogoi, T N Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

While the BJP welcomed the decision, INC leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged the government of revenge politics and termed the decision as ‘dictatorial’.

“Our members had done nothing wrong. The decision was motivated by revenge politics and what happened today is a tale of embarrassment in the history of Parliament.”

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, INC Leader

Day 14
On March 6, the Lok Sabha passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 without any discussion.

The Mineral Laws Bill will remove the restrictions for certain coal mines and will further allow the transfer of statutory clearances from previous lessees to successful bidders for two years. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will allow certain financial creditors to initiate an insolvency process in the event of default.

“This Bill will transform the mining sector in the country by boosting coal production and reducing dependence on imports and in turn also promote Ease of Doing Business.”

– Prahlad Joshi, Union Coal & Mines Minister.

Day 15
On 11th March, Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S.Jaishankar addressed the Rajya Sabha over the growing concerns of 6000 Indians stranded in Iran due to Coronavirus. He also informed that the Cabinet Secretary is following up with all states to set up isolation wards.

The Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla reconsidered the decision of the chair and revoked the suspension of the 7 MPs. As the Lok Sabha took up the discussion of the riots in Delhi, fierce disruption was seen from the opposition. AIMIM MP Owaisi, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya put out strong opposing views. Later Home Minister Amit Shah also replied to the debate by stating the facts and figures of the riot and also promised strict and swift action against those behind the riots.

Day 16
On March 12, the Rajya Sabha passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment Bill), 2020 but without the incorporation of the Standing Committee recommendations and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also passed.

In the second half, the government faced a lot of heat from the opposition in the Rajya sabha over the discussion of Delhi Riots wherein the opposition accused the Home Minister of failing to control the riots and also demanded clarification on CAA-NPR-NRC. Replying to the debate, the Home Minister gave point to point reply informing measures taken by the Delhi Police to investigate the riots and also criticized the Shaheen Bagh protest and clarified that no one’s citizenship would be taken away due to CAA or NPR.

Complete Coverage: Chronology of Delhi Riots

The Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha; this bill would replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 and set up a Board of Major Port Authority for each Major Port in the country. The Demand for Grants by the Ministry of Railways was also discussed in the Lok Sabha which highlighted the declining business of passenger and freight trains due to other modes of transport.

Day 17
On 15th March, the Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants for the Ministry of Railways. The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Rajya Sabha where the MPs expressed their concerns over not addressing the root causes of high pendency of tax disputes. The House passed the motion to return the bill to the Lok Sabha as it can only send recommendations in case of a money bill.

Day 18
On March 16, the Rajya Sabha gave its assent to the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 which will convert Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha into Central Sanskrit Universities.

The Standing Committee report on the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled in Lok Sabha. It seeks to prohibit unauthorized recording and broadcasting of a film and make provision for a prison term of up to 3 years, or a fine of up to Rs.10 lakh.

The Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tourism. The Appropriation Bill, 2020 was introduced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and also subsequently passed.

Day 19
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha which seeks to decriminalize technical lapses under the 2013 Companies Act. Some Members opposed the bill and demanded to send it to a Standing Committee. This demand was put down by the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur stating that the Bill only covered technical and procedural defaults.

The Lok Sabha then took up the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that proposes to recognize the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) as statutory bodies. One of the MPs asked the Civil Aviation Minister to pass the benefit of low rates of crude oil to aircraft operators; to which Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asked for aviation fuel to be brought under the GST regime.

The Rajya Sabha also took up The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 for discussion which aims to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and set up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM). The house also discussed The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 which proposes to set up the National Commission for Homoeopathy(NCH).

Day 20
The Rajya Sabha passed both The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019.

In the Zero Hour of Lok Sabha, an MP raised a demand to expand the list of Scheduled Languages to recognize Rajasthani, Bhoti, and Bhojpuri. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs assured that the government is considering this demand to be added to the 8th Schedule.

Day 21
On March 19, the Lok Sabha passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 to merge 3 Ayurveda institutes into one which will now be called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda and will be designated as an institution of National Importance. Rajya Sabha discussed the Working of the Ministry of MSME; Nitin Gadkari, Minister for MSME said, “the sector contributes 29% of the GDP growth and 33% of manufacturing and has created about 11 crore jobs.”

Day 22
On March 23, The Finance Bill, 2020 was passed in the Lok Sabha and The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 and the Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 were introduced.

The house also gave an extension for the submission of the Joint Committee Report on The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. In Rajya Sabha, the Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 was introduced. Later, the house took up clause by clause consideration of the Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bills for 2020. After growing pressure from the opposition to curtail the ongoing Budget Session, both the Houses were adjourned sine die 12 days ahead of schedule due to the growing cases of coronavirus.


Zero Hour – The time immediately following the Question Hour has come to be known as “Zero Hour”. It starts at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time. Typically, discussions on important Bills, the Budget, and other issues of national importance take place from 2 p.m. onwards. More Info

Money Bill – In the Westminster system a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending as opposed to changes in public law. It can be introduced only in Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha may not amend money bills but can recommend amendments. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha certifies the bill as a money bill before sending it to the upper house, and the decision of the Speaker is binding on both the Houses. A money bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, or the bill is deemed be passed in both houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha. More Info