In a rare move, state Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee on Thursday asked the media to leave the House, but retracted his decision immediately after protests by Opposition Left Front members.
The Speaker’s marching order came when mediapersons did not stand up when he entered the Assembly after it began. The members of the House rose up, but not the mediapersons since the media bench is not considered as a part of the House.
The Speaker cautioned the media that they cannot be above any decorum and etiquette in the House and said that for the last few days, he had been observing that some of them were either sleeping or gossiping in the media bench and did not stand up when he entered. This constituted disrespect to the Chair, Banerjee asserted.
The Left Front members immediately rose to their feet protesting and requested the Speaker not to set a precedent by asking the media to go out.
Responding to their appeal, the Speaker immediately withdrew his order, but cautioned mediapersons against recurrence of such act in future.
Later in his chamber, the Speaker clarified that this was not a ruling. Since he was not happy with the behaviour of some mediapersons, he cautioned the entire media against any act on their part that could be judged as disrespect to the Chair.
Giving an example why he was so unhappy, the Speaker said he found on Wednesday that a couple of members of the media were sleeping. The Speaker immediately asked the Marshals to alert them since the place was not for sleeping. Instead of saying sorry one of those members even misbehaved with the Marshals, he said.
Speaking to mediapersons in his Chamber, Banerjee also cautioned against using cellphones inside the House. When the Speaker was reminded that the media bench was not considered as part of the House and as such they did not take it as mandatory to rise on their feet when he (Speaker) enters, Banerjee acknowledged it, saying some decorum should be maintained by the media to pay due respect to the House and the Chair.