Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, shot off a letter to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday urging him to expunge remarks made in the House by Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal about Congress president and Lok Sabha MP Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.
Referring to a convention in the Rajya Sabha wherein members are not allowed to make critical remarks about the Lok Sabha or its members, Kharge also urged the chairman to direct Goyal and Sitharaman to apologise for “violating the sacrosanct convention”.
Sitharaman and Goyal, who is also leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, had demanded an apology from Gandhi over the “Rashtrapatni” remark made by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, about President Droupadi Murmu.
“One of the time-honoured conventions is that reflections or critical remarks should not be made on the other House or members of the other House. In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to ruling made by Shri R. Venkataraman the-then Hon’ble Chairman of Rajya Sabha on 15 April, 1987 wherein he inter alia observed ‘No person who is not a member of this House can be referred to in the House in a derogatory manner or in any other way affecting his reputation’,” Kharge wrote in the letter. “In fact, even a Question of Privilege cannot be raised directly in one House against the members of the other House,” he added.
Kharge also referred to a procedure that was adopted by both the Houses way back in 1954 based on a report of a joint sitting of the privilege committees of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. “As per this procedure, when a question of breach of privilege or contempt of the House is raised in either of the House in which a member, officer or servant of the other House is involved, the procedure followed is that the Presiding Officer of the House in which the question of privilege is raised, refers the case to the Presiding Officer of the other House,” he wrote.
“I have made a mention of this procedure to emphasise upon the sanctity of sovereignty of each House of Parliament and its members. Hence mentioning and making remarks in regard to a member of the Lower House in the Upper House is a gross violation of the time-honoured conventions. Needless to mention, as Chairman of this august House, your goodself would appreciate the need for adherence to well-established Parliamentary conventions and practices,” Kharge added.
“I also request that they tender their apology for their violation of sacrosanct conventions of the House,” he wrote.