Served a notice by the Rajya Sabha Privileges Committee for alleged premature disclosure of the CAG report on allocation of D6 Block in the KG Basin, lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday said the disclosure “was essential in public interest” and, therefore, the notice was “misconceived in law”.
The committee, headed by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, had asked Bhushan to appear before it on February 10 following a complaint by Janata Dal (United) member K C Tyagi.
Bhushan, a Swaraj Abhiyan leader, contended that the motion of parliamentary privileges “has a colonial origin from British Parliament which was regarded as sovereign”. In India, people are the sovereign and Parliament is their representative, he said. “The Constitution”, he maintained, “has empowered its citizens with fundamental rights, including the right to free speech” and the Supreme Court “has held this to include the Right to Information holding that citizens have the right to know what their representatives are doing in every aspect”.
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He said, “The Supreme Court has also held that Parliamentary Privileges would include only those for allowing Parliament to function, without impediment.” He then listed several judgments to substantiate it.
“It is clear that the disclosure of the report has not impeded the functioning of Parliament in any way and therefore it cannot constitute breach of privilege” Bhushan stated. “A CAG report is not a part of the parliamentary proceedings or its committee; rather it is an autonomous body created by the Constitution… Merely because it is required under law to be tabled in Parliament doesn’t make it the report of the Parliament or its committee.”
He argued that the CIC (Manohar Parrikar & Ors. V. Accountant General, Goa) vide its order dated 10.06.2010 had held that that the disclosure of the report of the CAG would not amount to breach of parliamentary privileges.