Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has referred the February 13 incidents, including the pepper spray attack, to the Committee on Privileges, according to an official announcement here on Sunday.
The Speaker has asked the committee to examine the incidents and report to her. The 15-member committee is headed by senior Congress leader P C Chacko. The panel can recommend punitive measures, including imprisonment and expulsion from the House.
The Speaker had named 16 people in the wake of the incidents, who automatically stood suspended from the House for five consecutive sittings, February 13, 17, 18, 19 and 20.
Kumar has also directed the Parliamentary Committee on Security, headed by her deputy Kariya Munda, to convene an emergency meeting on Monday to review the safety measures which are in place and consider what needs being done to tighten security, including frisking of MPs.
In a new low in India’s parliamentary history, a pepper spray was used in the Lok Sabha resulting in hospitalisation of three MPs following a ruckus over introduction of the Telangana Bill after which 16 Seemandhra MPs were suspended. The Speaker had expressed anguish over the incidents saying it has “shamed the country and Parliament” and called it a “blot”.
Unprecedented pandemonium broke out in the House when expelled Congress member L Rajagopal, an industrialist opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh, brought a canister from which he sprayed pepper. Rajagopal’s action attracted widespread condemnation. All political parties have demanded action against unruly MPs. The government has already said it would not oppose whatever decision the Speaker takes in this regard.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat said the decision to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee has been taken under Rule 227 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. The function of the panel is to examine every question involving breach of privilege or contempt of the House or of the members of any Committee thereof referred to it by the House or by the Speaker.
(With PTI inputs)