On Thursday, the Lok Sabha secretariat released a list of words expunged from the heated discussion the day before over the JNU sedition row and the suicide of a Dalit student in Hyderabad. It was usual procedure. What was unusual were the words that were expunged and those that were not.
While references made in the speech by Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia to the RSS, Delhi BJP legislator O P Sharma and Nathuram Godse were expunged, what stayed on record were the names of the eight JNU students identified by HRD Minister Smriti Irani.
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Rule No 352 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha states a member “shall not refer to any matter of fact on which a judicial decision is pending”.
The eight students named by Irani are being investigated by Delhi Police for their role in organising a protest in JNU against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which “anti-national slogans” were allegedly raised. They have not been pronounced guilty yet by any court of law.
Asked why the word RSS was expunged, an official spokesperson of the secretariat told The Indian Express that it was “because of the context of its usage and not the word per se.” Asked about the students, the spokesperson said, “The context in which the minister listed their names was relevant and therefore, there was no expunction.”
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Article 105(2) of the Constitution grants MPs freedom of speech, but not to say anything against any individual or to use defamatory, indecent or unparliamentary words against anyone without giving advance notice, including to the minister concerned.
Rule No 353 states: “No allegation of a defamatory or incriminatory nature shall be made by a member against any person unless the member has given an adequate advance notice to the Speaker and also to the Minister concerned….”
And Rule No 380 stipulates: “If the Speaker is of opinion that words have been used in debate which are defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified, he may, in his discretion, order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House.”
BJP MLA Sharma was at the centre of a controversy last week after he assaulted a CPI activist outside the Patiala Courts complex ahead of the bail hearing of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
“Karyavahi vritant mein shamil nahin kiya gaya (Not included in the record of proceedings),” states the revised version of the proceedings at ten different sections in the speech of Scindia.
Irani named the JNU students in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
“The individuals who are named by the faculty of JNU are Syed Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, Rama Naga, Anant Prakash Narayan, Kanhaiya Kumar, Aishwarya Adhikari and Shweta Raj,” states the record of Irani’s speech.
The only word used by Irani, which the Lok Sabha secretariat found deserved to be deleted, was “dushkarm (misdeed)”. Irani had used the word while objecting to Scinidia using the same word in his speech earlier.