CHENNAI: No orders will be passed subsequent to the issue of the show cause notices (SCNs) to the 21 DMK MLAs, including MK Stalin, Leader of the Opposition, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan told the Madras High Court on Thursday. He gave an undertaking to this effect to Justice M Duraiswamy when a batch of writ petitions challenging the SCNs dated August 28 last issued by the Privileges Committee of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, came up.
Recording the submission, the judge adjourned the matter till September 14. No action shall be taken on the SCNs till then, the judge said. Earlier, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, representing Stalin and Amarendra Saran for the other MLAs, submitted that there is no ban on possessing and consuming gutka, as per the notification issued on March 23 last. It bans only manufacture, storage, transport and its sale. Bringing gutka to the House cannot be treated as a privilege issue. Even if there is a rule, it will never amount to breach of privilege, he argued.
When State ministers, secretaries, DGP and other top officials are allegedly involved in this scam, “I cannot go to a police station and give a complaint. It is my constitutional right to bring it to the notice of the people of the State and save the youth from the cancerous disease. The gutka sachets were brought to the House only to show that they are still very much available, even after its ban in 2013,” he said.
Under the Constitution, freedom of speech is protected. The right of an MLA is an absolute one and can’t be proceeded either by contempt or defamation,” he added.
The issue of the SCNs amounted to mala fide, as they have been issued only after the DMK MLAs wrote a letter to Governor to hold a floor test on the government. The circumstance and the time of issue of notice is only to prevent the members from participating in the floor test. There is no question of privilege and violation of the same in the present case. “The privilege issue will rise only when the MLAs disrupt the proceedings of the House or interfere with the right of another member and do not allow the House to function. There is no rule or standing order that gutka should not be brought inside the House, he pointed out.
Vijay Narayan told the judge that he would like to argue on the maintainability of the petitions first. The petitioners had sent a request for time till September 12 to file their replies to the SCNs. “Let them first file their reply,” he said and added that he will advise the Privileges Committee to adjourn its proceedings till the maintainability question is decided by the court.
Judge’s poser on jurisdiction
When the writ petitions from DMK MLAs and one from MK Stalin, Leader of the Opposition, challenging the Show Cause Notices issued by the Privileges Committee, were posted before Justice M Duraiswamy, he wondered whether he had the jurisdiction to hear them. Any matter relating to the Assembly, ministers and the Chief Minister, has to be placed only before the Chief Justice, he said and added there were precedents. DMK senior counsel P Wilson, accompanied by senior counsel Kapil Sibal, took up the matter with CJ Indira Banerjee, who directed the Registrar-General (RG) to find out whether there was any circular stipulating such a norn. The RG got back that there was no such circular. As directed by the CJ, the RG informed the position, after which Justice Duraiswamy took up the matter.
Stalin to meet Guv on Sunday
DMK leader M K Stalin will meet the Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Sunday. He is expected to press for immediate floor test by the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the wake of the rebellion.