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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Facebook controversy: BJP MP gives breach of privilege notice against Shashi Tharoor

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has sent the notice to Speaker Om Birla requesting him to initiate a privilege motion against Tharoor.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: August 19, 2020 10:27:40 pm
ram temple bhoomi pujan, shashi tharoor, pm modi, ram temple bhoomi pujan pm modi speech, narendra modi bhoomi pujan, shashi tharoor attacks pm modi, caa, nrcThe Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is headed by Shashi Tharoor. (File)

BJP MP and a member of the Standing Committee on Information Technology Nishikant Dubey Wednesday moved a notice for breach of privilege against committee chairman Shashi Tharoor over the Congress leader’s notice to Facebook asking it to appear before the panel.

Dubey, in the notice, alleged that Tharoor had sent the notice without following rules and had “surpassed all limits of decency, ethics and basic tenets of Parliamentary procedures and practices”.

“Tharoor has surpassed all limits of decency, ethics and basic tenets of Parliamentary procedure and practice vis-a-vis smooth functioning of Parliamentary Committee by way of committing a grave breach of privilege, not only in the capacity of an individual honourable Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha but also remaining in the exalted position of Chairperson of one of the most important departmentally related Standing Committees, viz, Information Technology,” Dubey said in his notice.

Dubey has sent the notice to Speaker Om Birla, requesting him to initiate a privilege motion against Tharoor. The Speaker can decide on the notice on himself or can refer it to the privileges committee.

Tharoor had earlier summoned Facebook representatives to appear before the panel to explain a The Wall Street Journal report that said, citing business imperatives, Facebook public policy head Ankhi Das had “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP, despite the fact that they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.

Explained | As head of House panel, can Shashi Tharoor summon Facebook over alleged links with BJP?

Dubey had earlier publicly criticised Tharoor, saying that he had violated rules by doing so without getting the approval of the Lok Sabha Speaker or the Secretary-General. However, Tharoor rejected as “extraordinary” the idea that the House panel should not take up a matter of “such great public interest”.

According to Dubey, there were “some personal issues with an individual person with Facebook and WhatsApp”. He said in the letter: “The said incident was also reported in the media. It is needless to say that such incidents occur in our democratic society, which are, in fact, a sign of healthy and vibrant democracy, wherein, any individual, in a private capacity, has the right and freedom to express his views freely and without any fear.”

Read | Facebook policy head Ankhi Das alleges threat to life in police complaint

He also said that after Tharoor sent the letter to Facebook, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted saying that “BJP and RSS control Facebook and WhatsApp in India. They spread fake news and hatred thorough it and use it to influence the electorate.”

Dubey also argued that Tharoor had not discussed the move with the committee members. “It is, therefore, a clear case, of Breach of Privilege by Dr Shashi Tharoor in the capacity of honourable Chairperson of the Departmentally Related Standing Committee on Information Technology,” he said. Dubey also alleged that the Committee had not been selecting the subjects from the agenda but only the issues appearing in the media.

Tharoor, he alleged, had committed a serious breach of privilege to use the committee platform “not only to serve his political agenda” but also to “tarnish BJP and sensationalise a small incident by misusing his official powers”.

He also said Rahul Gandhi, “by levelling the said unsubstantiated allegations against all the Members of Parliament, Lok Sabha, who belong to BJP”, has also lowered the dignity of all such Members of Parliament and infringed upon their Parliamentary Privileges.”

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