On 2nd September 2020, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats issued a notification stating that there will be no Question Hour and the private members’ Bills will not be taken up in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, while the Zero Hour will be restricted, that will be held on 14th September 2020. This hoax of the Indian Government does terminate the democratic foundation upon which the Constitution’s values rest. Questioning the Government for its work is what every democratic country has been following as criticism of the opposition somewhat catches the hidden disguise going in a country. However, in the present case, the opposition would not get a chance to question the Centre over its heedless doings till date. One of the strong points of quasi-federal Parliament is its transparency and its accountability toward the public. This can be witnessed through an integrated part of the parliamentary procedure, i.e. question hour – the first hour of a sitting session of India’s Lok Sabha, in which any question relating to Government administrative activities can be raised, and it is prerequisite to be answered by customarily concerned minister be it of national or international interest. The transpiration of question hour has many a time led to divulgement of scandals like Mundhra scandal and Puducherry licence scandal, but, its annulment unveils the autocratic intent of the Government which is conspicuous enough to expose how it is turning Parliament translucent and one day, opaque with absolute control. This act of outraging democracy was justified in a typical politician way, inculpating COVID-19.
Another profound aspect in this draconian attempt is that the national lawmakers will not get the occasion of putting down their outlooks over the present standing of the law apparatus and or raising issues which are of national magnitude. The present situation can be wholly paralleled to another one – it is like letting a criminal go of prosecution. Parliament is a constitutional body which is of the people of the country, but after the Centre’s step, it seems that if the same gets ordered another time then, bit by bit, Parliament will be looked at as a private limited company where there is present zilch of consensus and only absolute rule.
Things continue to transpire again and again if not stopped at their first occurrence, and so does the instance of this suspension of question hour entail –criticising the Centre for its dictatorial move. Copious Member of Parliament (MP)have brought up their concerning affairs regarding the deferral of their right to grill the Government provided it disturbs that formal procedure which was a must for a country to run democratically. The officials have reasoned their decision by deeming Coronavirus as a danger; however, as also apparent, the entire sessions would have been postponed to some other date as not to stop the sanctioning of the Parliament’s practices. On the one hand, marriages are being allowed though with a small count, and on the other, an imperative do for maintaining the country’s autonomy did not get a must place. The authors argue: why is the Government not delaying two of the major entrance examinations: NEET & JEE; estimated to be attended by 24.55 lakh students. Are those students immune to Covid-19? On the contrary, the Government is ready to exclude the question hour for the safety of 545 members’ lives of Lok Sabha. Indeed, our dear Government will make our students “Exam Warriors”. Evidently, the Government is using Covid-19 as an excuse to cover its several administrative failures, whether that be a diminution in GDP of India (lame excuse; it is an Act of God) or failing in providing an efficient health model in the hour of need (exceptional hike in Covid cases) or humanitarian crises (migration of labour amid pandemic}. If that is not enough to prove the Government’s intents, then what would be?
In recent orders related to exam postponed issues the Supreme Court made a statement “life cannot be stopped” but somehow our beloved Government is deaf enough not to realise it and barmy enough to think that question hour cannot be attended with proper precautions. For the record, High Court of Delhi has decided to resume physical hearings with a reduced number of benches and essential precautions, after a trial of 14 days.
The basic definition for Government in India has been spelt as “to the people, by the people, for the people”, but if this dictatorial trend of expulsion prolongs enough, this definition will cease to exist; one of the biggest democracies will turn to a monarchy. Ultimately, the suspension of the question hour for an entire session expressively not only stems autocracy but also reflects a watershed moment when democracy is being murdered.