The Punjab Assembly will meet on Friday for a truncated, one-day session with strict protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 23 legislators including three ministers have tested positive for coronavirus, though a few of them have recovered. Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana K P Singh has made coronavirus negative test report mandatory for ministers, MLAs, officers and employees to attend the 12th session of the 15th Vidhan Sabha.
It is a constitutional requirement to hold a session within six months of the previous Assembly session.
In order to ensure social distancing in the House, one member per bench will be allowed to sit, an official of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha said.
“Against two members per bench earlier, this time only one member will occupy the bench in order to maintain social distancing norms,” the official said.
“Some additional benches have also been kept in the House to accommodate all the members,” the official said.
In the 117-member House, there are a total 105 benches. However, with many MLAs getting infected, the requirement for additional benches may not arise. Visitors and journalists will not be allowed inside the Assembly, the official said.
Social distancing norms will also be followed for the bureaucrats concerned in the officers' gallery. A kit comprising masks, gloves and hand sanitiser will be provided to each member of the House, the official said.
The Speaker has notified the Punjab Bhawan as an extended precinct of the House for media coverage of the session. Live streaming of the session would be provided in the hall of the Punjab Bhawan, though no camera or mobile phone will be allowed, the official said. Legislators can hold press conferences in the open area of the Punjab Bhawan.
A COVID-19 test has also been made mandatory for journalists who will cover the session. Meanwhile, several bills and ordinances are likely to be presented during the one-day Vidhan Sabha session for enactment.
These are related to regulation of private clinical establishments, temporary release of some prisoners amid the pandemic, control of drugs dispensation by private de-addiction centres, industrial disputes and child labour. The 'Sri Guru Teg Bahadur State University of Law Bill – 2020' for the establishment of a law university in Tarn Taran to commemorate the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Teg Bahadur is also likely to be tabled in the House.
Meanwhile, the opposition has slammed the state government for the truncated session, accusing it of running away from discussing the important issues of the state.