The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Friday spared seven DMK MLAs of action, including a six month suspension, for their alleged unruly behaviour during the Palaniswami government’s trust vote on February 18, following an intervention from Speaker P Dhanapal. The report by the Committee of Privileges, headed by Deputy Speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman, had suggested six month suspension for the seven DMK members, namely S Ambeth Kumar, K S Masthan, K S Ravichandran, N Suresh Rajan, K Karthikeiyan, P Murugan and Ku Ka Selvam.
Leader of the House and School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan moved a motion that the House accepted the recommendations, which also included freezing of the MLAs’ salary and other perks during the six month suspension period.
However, Dhanapal, who said he was the one “affected” during the ruckus, requested that the recommendations may not be accepted since six of the seven, excluding Suresh Rajan, were first-time legislators. He said the Privileges Committee recommendations were made with the aim of ensuring expression of opinions on the floor of the House sans fear and for people’s benefit in the future.
He said it will also send across a message to those who think that speaker’s democratic duties can be “prevented using violence and intimidation,” and that the said recommendations could serve as a “lesson” for other members of the House. The speaker thanked the House for taking up his cause, saying “the speaker is responsible for members and the House is responsible for the speaker” and pointed out that but for one, the rest of the DMK members in question were first-time MLAs. “Further, the seven DMK members had met me on June 21 and expressed regret over the incidents. They have also given apology letter and assured they will not repeat them in the future,” Dhanapal said.
Considering these factors, the treasury benches may withdraw the resolution moved to accept the recommendations of the Privileges Committee, he suggested, saying there were expectations from them that they will not repeat their action in future. Responding to the speaker’s plea, Sengottaiyan, the School Education Minister, said the government would treat the former’s request as his “order”. He said the ruling benches accepted the speaker’s “culture, humanitarian aspect and mercy”, promptly moving another resolution to withdraw the original one.
The second resolution was adopted by a voice vote. Responding to the issue, Opposition Leader M K Stalin thanked and praised the speaker for his “generosity”, and recalled that he had regretted the DMK members’ unruly action, if any, during the trust vote. DMK’s allies, Congress and Indian Union Muslim League, also praised the speaker. Later, Dhanapal said he had made an effort for a healthy debate of opinions and suggested that with such an orderly style, the Tamil Nadu Assembly could set an example on conducting smooth proceedings.