The Parliament building in New Delhi | Praveen Jain | ThePrint
The Parliament building in New Delhi (representational image) | Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Only two ministry officials can appear before standing committees, while reporters can be present inside the committee rooms to take verbatim notes of the proceedings.

These are among the protocols issued by Rajya Sabha Tuesday ahead of the departmental standing committee meetings resuming this week.

The Upper House has restricted the number of officials the ministry/department brings for the meetings to two. This means, only two officials from the ministry/department appearing before the committee for evidence would be allowed to attend the meetings at a time.

“If more number of witnesses have to be examined, it would be done in turns. There is no restriction on the number of witnesses to be examined by the committees,” according to the protocol.

This comes days after Lok Sabha issued protocols last Friday, advising ministries appearing before the standing panels to restrict the number of officials they bring for the meetings to a maximum of five.

However, unlike Lok Sabha, the Upper House has allowed reporters to be present at the meeting rooms to take note of the proceedings. It, however, didn’t specify the number of reporters that can be present during the meetings. 

“Unlike Lok Sabha, which has disallowed reporters, Rajya Sabha protocol allows for accommodating reporters in the well of the committee rooms for taking verbatim note of the proceedings of the committees,” said a Rajya Sabha Secretariat official.

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Also read: Parliament to middle class: These are the 8 failings of India coronavirus has exposed

6-ft distance and soft copies only

The Upper House has restricted the participation of the number of support staff servicing different committees in the meetings.

It also said participation of the number of members in the meetings would be ascertained in advance to ensure the necessary logistics.

Rajya Sabha protocol further states hand sanitisers, disposable masks and gloves will be provided to the MPs and officials before they enter the meeting rooms.

Also, like Lok Sabha, all material related to the meetings would be supplied to the members as soft copies. Besides, attendance of the members will be taken as required under the law and would be marked outside the meeting rooms.

The protocol further states members of the committee will be seated at a distance of 6 feet from each other and appropriate arrangements will be made to accommodate the maximum possible participation.

Not many MPs are expected to turn up for meetings

Parliament sources told ThePrint not many MPs are expected to turn up at the departmental standing committee meetings. 

“Many MPs are apprehensive of coming to Delhi because of the high number of Covid-19 cases. But the meetings can take place even if all members are not present. These are not normal times,” a source said.

The Rajya Sabha standing committee meeting on science and technology, environment, forests and climate is scheduled this Friday, and the standing committee on home is scheduled to meet on 15 July. Both the committees will examine various aspects related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also read: Mixed ‘online-offline’ Parliament session discussed as legislature eyes comeback amid Covid


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