Speaker disallows Left’s notices of privilege against PM

October 24th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Friday turned down a privilege notice against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he was not satisfied that a breach of privilege has been committed by him on the India-US civilian nuclear deal.A breach of privilege notice against the prime minister was heard by the speaker Oct 20. The notice was given by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Basudeb Acharya, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Yerran Naidu and other Left leaders.

The speaker ruled that no motion of privilege could be taken up by the Lok Sabha against the prime minister as he was a member of the other house, the Rajya Sabha.

“The prime minister is a member of the other house. Neither House of Parliament can claim or exercise any authority over a member of the other house. Consequently, neither house can take upon itself to punish any breach of privilege or contempt offered to it by a member or officer of the other House,” the speaker said.

And in a case when a member of the other house is involved in alleged breach of privilege, the presiding officer first satisfies himself about the charge and only then refers the case to his counterpart in the other house, Chatterjee noted.

“…When a question of breach of privilege or contempt of the house is raised in either house in which a member, officer or servant of the other house is involved, the procedure followed is that the presiding officer of the house in which the question of the privilege is raised, refers the case to the presiding officer of the other house, only if he is satisfied on hearing the member who raises the question or on perusing any document where the complaint is based on a document that a breach of privilege has been committed,” the speaker observed.

“Since the prime minister is a member of the other house, before referring the matter to the presiding officer of the other house, it is necessary, as per the established procedure, for me as the presiding officer of this house, where the matter is raised, to be satisfied that a breach of privilege has been committed,” Chatterjee said.

“I heard Acharya in the matter on Oct 20. As the notices of question of privilege given by other members are almost identical to that of Acharya, it is not necessary for me to hear all the members. The allegation against the prime minister is that he has not fulfilled an assurance given by him to this house July 22. I have also perused the contents of the extracts of the speech of the prime minister, as set in the notices and quoted earlier.”

“According to Kaul and Shakdher, it is well established that ‘non-implementation of an assurance given by a minister on the floor of the house is neither a breach of privilege nor a contempt of the House…,” the speaker said.

Constitutional experts M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakdher wrote the celebrated ‘Practice and Procedure of Parliament’ which is always referred to while tackling issues of parliamentary practice.

The Left MPs alleged in the notice that the prime minister in his reply to the Motion of Confidence July 22 assured parliament that he would come to parliament before operationalising the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

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