Politics over ‘deletion’ heats up in Parliament

Mallikarjun Kharge says freedom of speech cannot be subverted and similar words used by Vajpayee still on record

Published: 10th February 2023 07:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2023 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

Mallikarjun Kharge at the Parliament during Budget Session on Thursday | PTI

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Taking exception to the removal of six comments he made in the speech on the motion of Thanks on President’s address, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar saying that he hasn’t made any personal charges and any rule of the House cannot subvert the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of speech.

Demanding a JPC probe on the Hindenburg report on Adani Group, Kharge had attacked the Modi government on Wednesday, questioning its silence on the issue.On Thursday, the Upper House witnessed noisy scenes as Congress MPs objected to the deletion of Kharge’s remarks, pointing out that similar remarks made by former prime ministers Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh in the House continue to be part of the proceedings. Kharge said that he did not use any unparliamentary word or language or made any allegation on anyone.

“Yet you picked out some words. I won’t say you misinterpreted them but if you had any doubt, you could have asked for clarification. But you deleted my words in six places” he told the House. “Former PM Vajpayee used a word against former PM P V Narasimha Rao and that word is still in the records,” said Kharge.In his letter to Dhankhar, Kharge pointed out that directions were made by the Chair on February 8 to authenticate six observations made by him during the speech.

“The institution of Parliament of India is a platform to fix the accountability of the Executive. This necessitates that the policies and the decisions of the government are discussed, dissected and debated on the floor of the House. Any criticism of policies and decisions of the government and their fallouts cannot be construed as the allegation against any individual Member of the House,” he saidKharge further stated in his letter that Article 105 (1) of the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech for the Members of Parliament.

“In consonance with this constitutional guarantee and rules of the House, a member is only required to authenticate any document that he lays on the table of the House. There is no convention or provision of authentication of points made in a speech on the floor of the House,” he said.On Wednesday, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha had removed 18 comments made by Rahul Gandhi during his speech on the motion of Thanks on President’s address. He had raised questions on Adani Group’s links with the government.  

Kharge, in the letter said that it would be an inversion of the system of governance, if the opposition members are expected to gather evidence and then raise the matter on the floor of the House. “The arrangement, as I understand, is that the opposition member, or any private member, raises issues on the basis of inputs from media, reports in public domain, or even confidential personal information,” he said.
“The member, after due-diligence, draws the attention of the House to such issues and it is incumbent upon the government to investigate the matter and take appropriate action in consonance with the law of the land,” Kharge said.

Restore Rahul’s speech: Adhir writes to Speaker

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday wrote to Speaker Om Birla urging him to revisit his decision to delete parts of Rahul Gandhi’s speech made during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address. The leader asked the Speaker to restore Rahul s speech. “The freedom of speech that is available to MPs under Article 105(1) is wider in amplitude than the Right of Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a),” he wrote.


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