Refusing to get drawn into the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) infighting,Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Thursday turned down the petitions of rival factions one demanding the removal of P C Chacko as the chairman of the panel and another seeking the ouster of Jaswant Singh,Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad from it.
Kumar expressed anguish over the JPC dispute and suggested that the members resolve it through votes. She said: Rule 261 (Lok Sabha Rules of Business and Procedure) provides that all questions and sitting of a Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting. All contentious issues can,therefore,be resolved by the Committee having recourse to this Rule.
As many as 15 of the 30 members of the committee,belonging to eight parties,had written letters to Kumar expressing their no-confidence in Chacko. They had pleaded with her to replace him. Besides,they had rejected the draft report circulated by him.
The Congress members had retaliated by seeking the ouster of Jaswant Singh,Sinha and Prasad on the ground that they were instrumental in the decision-making process related to telecom between 1998 and 2004 and it would not be fair to allow them to sit on judgement on their own decisions.
Kumar said the question of replacing the JPC Chairman had been examined in the light of the existing rules and the past practice in this regard. She said,Due to absence of express provisions in the rules,it will be difficult to remove the chairman of any parliamentary committee. It is a different matter if the Chairman himself resigns.
Kumar said,I urge upon the Chairman and the members of the JPC to work out an agreeable solution to end the current impasse and produce a report after adopting the same according to rules,place it before Parliament.
Responding to the demand of Congress for removal of the three BJP members,the Speaker referred to a 2011 ruling by her on the issue of conflict of interest. She had ruled that the membership of the Council of Ministers during the earlier period would not constitute any personal,pecuniary or direct interest unless such members have some other personal,pecuniary or direct interest referred to in direction 52-A.