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Venkaiah considers action against ‘unruly’ Opposition MPs, seeks advice

Venkaiah Naidu, it is learnt, has started examining precedents and holding legal consultations with former and serving senior members of the Rajya Sabha secretariat on the next steps for appropriate action against the MPs over their behaviour.

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: August 14, 2021 9:23:59 am
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu is said to be actively considering some kind of action against “unruly” members of the Opposition over their conduct in the well of the Rajya Sabha Wednesday when the monsoon session of Parliament ended on a bitter note amid chaotic scenes.

Venkaiah Naidu, it is learnt, has started examining precedents and holding legal consultations with former and serving senior members of the Rajya Sabha secretariat on the next steps for appropriate action against the MPs over their behaviour.

On the table is also the nature of the committee that should look into the matter and recommend action — whether it should be the committee on privileges, ethics or if a special committee has to be constituted.

Any action will be taken after detailed consideration and an appropriate view would be taken at the earliest, sources told The Indian Express Friday.

While the Committee of Privileges of Rajya Sabha can look into issues “involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the Council or of a Committee thereof”, the Committee on Ethics oversees “the moral and ethical conduct of the members and to examine the cases referred to it with reference to the ethical and other misconduct by members”.

Another option before the Chairman, sources said, is creation of a special committee for scrutiny of the matter. There is a precedent from UPA-I rule– it was set by Somnath Chatterjee as Lok Sabha Speaker — dealing with the case of cash-for-question by members of the Lower House. Based on the recommendations of a special committee headed by Pawan Kumar Bansal, Lok Sabha had passed a resolution to expel 10 of its members.

Their expulsion happened without the matter being referred to the Privileges Committee. A Rajya Sabha member was also expelled by the House, based on the recommendations of the same committee.

Chairman Naidu, sources said, has spoken to V K Agnihotri, Secretary General of Rajya Sabha from October 2007 to September 2012, to seek advice on the subject — Naidu has consulted Agnihotri in the past as well. He has also spoken to senior members of the Rajya Sabha secretariat.

He is said to be keen on consulting Subhash Kashyap who served as Lok Sabha Secretary General from December 1983 to August 1990.

Meanwhile, Naidu, interacting with reporters Friday, said the Opposition and Treasury benches are his two eyes and are equal for him.

A proper vision, he said, is possible with two eyes and that he has equal esteem for the two sides. And the reason why he, on many occasions, said it is the collective responsibility of both sides to enable smooth functioning of the House.

If anybody holds a different view on his handling of proceedings in the House, Naidu said, he will leave it to their wisdom. He said the legislature is meant for debate and discussion, and external political battles should not be fought on the table of the House – he was referring to some members climbing on to the table while sloganeering.

Addressing a press conference Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had said: “We demand that the Rajya Sabha Chairman should take stringent action against those Opposition MPs who broke rules.”

Opposition leaders, however, accused the government of derailing House proceedings. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had written to Naidu Thursday, slamming what he called “the authoritarian attitude and undemocratic actions of the government”. A delegation of Opposition leaders had met Naidu to lodge their protest.

Sources said while no formal complaint has been received from the treasury benches, officials of the Rajya Sabha secretariat have filed a detailed report on the August 11 events in the House and mentioned alleged manhandling of marshals.

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