New Delhi: Parliament has introduced a new security system for visitors who want to watch the proceedings of the House, following the incident of security breach during the winter session of Parliament. The new system requires visitors to apply online for passes, undergo biometric verification, and carry smart cards for entry. The new system will be effective from the budget session, which will begin on January 31, 2024.
Background of the security breach
The security breach occurred on December 13, 2023, the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack, when four people carrying smoke canisters emitting yellow smoke entered the Parliament premises and created a commotion. Two of them jumped from the visitors’ gallery into the Lok Sabha chamber, while the other two protested outside the Parliament building, shouting slogans against the government. The police detained the four suspects and launched an investigation into the incident. The incident raised serious questions about the security arrangements in Parliament and prompted the authorities to take corrective measures.
New security system for visitors
The new security system for visitors has been announced by the Lok Sabha bulletin, which states that visitors will be allowed to enter Parliament only if they have smart cards issued for entry. The smart cards will be issued after the online application of the Parliament members is approved and the visitors undergo biometric verification and photograph at the reception counter. The new system will have the following features:
- Online application: MPs can avail of the online mode of application for the issue of gallery passes on the Parliament website i.e. https://sansad.in/. Login can be done using the member’s login credentials. After this, by clicking on ‘Gallery Pass’, one can apply for a visitor pass as per the prescribed procedure and norms, except on the day of the interim budget. The application for a visitor pass will have to be sent three days in advance for police verification. MPs have been advised to ensure that their guests/visitors submit their correct address, contact number, and a copy of their Aadhaar Card along with the application form for the issue of Public Gallery Pass.
- QR code: Visitors to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will get a QR code on their mobile phones after the online application is approved. On the day of the scheduled journey, the visitor will have to present the QR code at the respective Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha counter along with the original Aadhaar Card for on-site verification.
- Biometric verification and photograph: After verification of the visitor’s details, a biometric impression and photograph of the visitor will be taken at the reception counter and a Smart Visitors Gallery Card will be issued. The smart card will have the visitor’s name, photograph, date of visit, gallery number, and seat number.
- Smart card: The visitors will get entry inside the Parliament only after showing the smart card at every gate and confirming the biometrics. The smart card will be valid only for the date and gallery for which it is issued. The smart card will have to be returned at the exit gate after the visit.
Restrictions and limitations
The new security system will also impose some restrictions and limitations on the visitors, such as:
- Number of passes: A Member of Parliament can now apply for five audience passes in a day, whereas earlier it was four. Only one visitor can apply for the Parliament pass on the day of the Interim Budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2024. In most cases only the husband or wife will be allowed.
- Group passes and same day passes: Due to security reasons, group passes and same day passes for the visitors gallery have been discontinued. Earlier, paper passes were issued on the basis of applications signed by MPs.
- No entry without smart card: No visitor will be allowed to enter the Parliament premises without a smart card. If a visitor loses the smart card, he or she will have to report it immediately to the security personnel and apply for a duplicate card.
The new security system for visitors is aimed at enhancing the security of Parliament and preventing any untoward incidents in the future. The system will also ensure that the visitors have a hassle-free and smooth experience of watching the proceedings of the House. The system will be effective from the budget session, which will begin on January 31, 2024.