The Privileges Committee of Rajya Sabha has condemned the comments of religious leader Sadhvi Prachi that there are “some terrorists in Parliament” but declined to pursue breach of privilege action against her, saying that would not serve any useful purpose.
The committee also noted that as a citizen of India, Prachi enjoys freedom of speech and expression, but if such comments contain a “personal attack” on MPs on account of their conduct in Parliament, or if the language of the comments is contemptuous, “the comments cannot be deemed to fall within bounds of fair comment or justifiable criticism”.
There were three breach of privilege notices against Prachi, filed by MPs from different parties.
In its 68th report, tabled in the House on Tuesday, the committee headed by Deputy Chairman Harivansh stated: “The statement of Sadhvi Prachi…was unfair, had contemptuous undertone and was also a personal attack on individual MPs, even though she did not name any Member…This opinion of the Committee is also based on the fact that Sadhvi Prachi, while making arguments in favour of her impugned statement, categorically charged MPs with sedition if they, according to her, were criticising the hanging of a convict whose mercy petition was also dismissed by the President.”
The comments were made in 2015, when Prachi took offence at the criticism by some MPs of the hanging of Yakub Memon. She told the committee that as a citizen of India she was pained when MPs criticised the hanging that had been sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and after the mercy petition had been rejected by the President.
This was one of four reports tabled in the House on Tuesday.
In its 66th report — on alleged monitoring and surveillance of mobile phones of Arun Jaitley, then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha — the committee directed Delhi Police, through the Union Home Ministry, to pursue a criminal case filed in the matter with all sincerity so that the guilty can be punished.
On the issue of threaten calls to former Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury, the committee, in its 67th report, stated that since FIR has been filed and the police are already pursuing the matter, it would not like to pursue it any further.
In its 69th report, the committee found the editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News guilty of committing “gross breach of privilege and contempt of the House by his offensive conduct” against an MP while he was participating in a discussion in the House. The matter involved former SP MP Naresh Agrawal, who has since joined the BJP. The panel noted, “…giving importance to such irresponsible elements will only lower the stature and dignity of Parliament as an institution”.