Politics

Rajya Sabha Schedule Change Sparks Namaz Controversy

Jagdip-Dhankar

On December 8th, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman, Jagdeep Dhankhar, made an official announcement regarding the synchronisation of session timings with the Lok Sabha, responding to concerns raised by DMK MP Tiruchi N. Siva. Siva had drawn attention to a revised business schedule that featured an agenda at 2 PM on that particular Friday.

Friday Namaz Break Sparks Rajya Sabha Controversy

The matter at hand pertained to a longstanding practice, embedded in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha, which granted an additional 30-minute lunch break on Fridays. This break traditionally allowed Muslim members to observe the namaz prayer. According to the usual schedule outlined in the rulebook, the Rajya Sabha typically convened from 11 AM to 1 PM, followed by a lunch break from 1 PM to 2 PM, and then resumed proceedings from 2 PM to 6 PM. However, on Fridays, the session reconvened at 2:30 PM after the lunch break. This additional half-hour was implicitly understood to accommodate the observance of namaz.

During the zero hour on Friday, immediately after the commencement of the session, MP Tiruchi N. Siva raised a point of order, expressing his concern over the listed agenda at 2 PM. In response, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar clarified that the alteration in the Friday timing had been made to align with the Lok Sabha schedule. It is noteworthy that the Lok Sabha does not observe a ‘namaz’ break on Fridays; this practice was unique to the Rajya Sabha.


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Controversy Arises Over Parliament Schedule Change

MP M. Mohamed Abdulla, another member of the DMK, objected to this decision, emphasising the historical precedent of fixing 2:30 PM for the benefit of Muslim members observing Jumma on Fridays. However, Chairman Dhankhar defended the decision, asserting that both houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, comprise members from diverse communities. He underscored the importance of uniformity and indicated that the change had already been communicated in the last session, without further objections from members.

Despite these clarifications, it’s worth noting that the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha, available on the Sansad Website, have not been updated to reflect this recent change, as the document from 2016 still indicates the extra 30-minute lunch break on Fridays.

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