The Delhi High Court Tuesday expressed anguish with a Delhi Legislative Assembly committee, comprising AAP MLAs, for not completing its breach of privilege proceedings against Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash despite questioning him for over four hours. “He has admittedly appeared before you (Committee of Privileges) for four hours. What kind of proceedings are these? In four hours of questioning, you would have known what you have to do. If you have not completed your proceedings within this time, we will not allow it to go forward now,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru remarked.
However, senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the committee, said the officer’s presence was not required for now. Taking note of this, Justice Bakhru made it clear that “no further hearing shall be scheduled” by the panel till September 18, the next date of hearing. The court also noted that in view of the statement made by the senior lawyer, the apprehensions of the bureaucrat “do not survive”. Prakash, represented by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra and advocate Vivek Chib, said that despite repeated requests, the verbatim and video recordings of the proceedings have not been provided to him. They claimed that without the records, their client cannot defend himself against the charges of breach of privilege.
Nandrajog said the verbatim records would be provided to the official as soon as it is authorised by the Speaker, who is in London and is expected to return on September 16. The counsel assured that the video records of the proceedings would be filed in court before the next date of hearing.
The court, thereafter, directed that the video records, of the proceedings before the committee on July 27 and August 20, be placed before the next date of hearing.
In the application, Prakash urged the court to put on hold the proceedings before the committee till it provided him with the records. He claimed that the committee had assured in the court that it would provide him with verbatim and video records of the proceedings.
The HC, on July 24, had told Prakash that he was “adequately protected” against any punishment by the Assembly committee. The court had said that its order of July 13 was “expressly clear” that he would have to participate in the proceedings before the Committee of Privileges (CoP) and if any punishment was imposed on him, it would not be implemented till his plea against the panel’s notice to him was decided. The CoP had issued a notice to Prakash on a complaint by the Questions and Reference (Q&R) Committee of the Assembly.