Acting with unusual alacrity, the Punjab Assembly has accepted the recommendations of the Privileges Committee, which held a part-time journalist guilty of breach of privilege of House and recommended that he be dismissed from his government service of school teacher, all financial benefits to him be stopped and a vigilance case be registered against him.
Congress MLA Kulbir Singh Zira had made the breach of privilege complaint against Parminder Singh Bariana, who is a Punjabi teacher at a government high school in Hoshiarpur district. The report was placed in Assembly Friday.
Bariana was held guilty by the Privileges Committee in a matter of months even as complaints of breach of privilege against politicians dating back to 2017 are still pending. Congress MLA Kushaldeep Singh Kiki Dhillon is the chairman of the committee.
In his complaint, Zira had alleged that Bariana, who works as a part time journalist with a Hindi newspaper, had made “indecorus comments” on various TV channels on the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report (on sacrilege cases of Guru Granth Sahib), which had been tabled in the Punjab Assembly. The Congress legislator had alleged that Bariana had asked what powers did the Vidhan Sabha have to discuss the report. Zira said in his complaint that the government teacher had no right to make such derogatory comments about the Vidhan Sabha.
Zira had also alleged that no government employee can work as a journalist and he can only write articles, which highlight some good issues for the benefit of the people. He alleged that Bariana had insulted the members of the House.
The Speaker had referred Zira’s complaint to the committee in March 2019.
During his deposition before the committee, Zira informed that the part-time journalist had interviewed former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, which had been run on a TV channel. He also alleged that the Bariana, who was a government teacher, is often on visits to the USA, Canada and other foreign countries and that the record of his travels should be summoned from the education department.
Bariana also deposed and had demanded that one member of the privilege committee, Congress MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, should be removed by the Speaker. This too had been treated as contemptuous conduct by him by the committee, which took a dim view of it. He also defended his indulging in journalism by saying that he had obtained a stay from the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the government order, which had withdrawn permission accorded to him for doing part time journalism.
Another allegation on Bariana was that he had given an interview to a TV channel in which he said that if by speaking out about Guru Granth Sahib and Justice Ranjit Singh Committee report he loses his job, then he would kick at a thousand such jobs.
The committee also found that the education department seemed to be helping Bariana in various ways instead of taking the allegations against him seriously. “The committee feels that this department’s work is not satisfactory because it has learnt that several employees of this department are active on social media and newspapers and despite there being regulations regarding government employees in this regard these are not implemented properly, which is a grave matter,” the report states.
SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia and several other Akali MLAs raised their voice against the committee’s report in the Assembly Friday. Protesting against it, they rushed to the Well of the House raising slogans before staging a walkout. Lok Insaf Party (LIP) MLA, Simarjit Singh Bains also termed the committee report and the action recommended against Bariana as “political”.
“The poor man is being harmed by putting on hold all his financial benefits, which will harm his family. I do not agree with the recommendations of this committee. I have given many complaints to the committee against misbehaviour by government officials with elected member of the House but nothing has happened,” Bains said.
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