Vivid News 24: Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and president of the Congress, wrote to chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday in protest after the House struck six of his comments from his speech on the motion of thanks for the President’s address. Any criticism of the government, its policies, or their results, according to him, could never belittle the stature of the House.
Kharge on Wednesday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration for the significant growth in the Adani Group’s fortunes over the past few years, which sparked a commotion in the Upper House. Kharge had also requested that a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the business transactions of the Adani Group.
Dhankhar had repeatedly stepped in and demanded that Kharge “authenticate” his claims with evidence. In his letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, Kharge emphasized that Article 105 of the Constitution ensures MPs’ freedom of speech in the House and that there is neither a custom nor a provision that requires speakers on the House floor to authenticate their remarks.
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“The Indian Parliament is a venue for establishing the Executive’s accountability. This demands that the government’s decisions and policies be discussed, analyzed, and debated on the House floor. Any criticism of the government’s policies, decisions, and consequences cannot be seen as an accusation against a specific House member, Kharge said.
He made note of the Chair’s instruction for him to confirm his six observations. Rule 238A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States states that “The Chairman may at any time prohibit any Member from making any such allegation if he is of the opinion that such allegation is derogatory to the dignity of the Council or that no public interest is served by making such allegation.”
Additionally, when combined with Rule 238, the term “allegation” refers to a factual issue that is the subject of an ongoing legal proceeding or to levelling an accusation against a member, according to him. Kharge asserted that criticism of the administration’s actions, policies, and results “can never be linked with (reducing) the ‘dignity of the Council’.” He claimed that “it is hard to imagine that in a parliamentary democracy, criticism of policies and their effects serves no public purpose.”
Article 105 of the Indian Constitution guarantees that members of parliament have the right to free speech. Only those documents that a member places on the House’s table must be authenticated, under this constitutional requirement and House rules. There is no custom or rule requiring speakers on the House floor to verify their points. According to him, no order or rule of the House may infringe upon the constitutional right to free speech.
According to the House’s rules and customs, Kharge further claimed that “none of my proposals had any personal charge.” Additionally, if opposition members were required to conduct in-depth investigations, compile evidence, and then bring up the issue on the floor of the House, that would be an inversion of the government system.
According to the arrangement, an opposition member or any private member may raise issues based on media inputs, publicly available reports, or even sensitive personal information. After careful consideration, the member calls the House’s attention to such matters, and it is the government’s responsibility to look into the situation and take appropriate action in accordance with the legislation, he said.
“Look at the provisions of the rules and conventions of the House and defend Members’ rights and privileges on the floor of the House,” he pleaded with the chairman. In his statement on Wednesday, Kharge, who was criticizing the BJP for being in power, also voiced his concern over the rise of intolerance in the nation. A day after Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla removed certain comments made by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi during his statement in the Lower House, Dhankhar decided to remove some of Kharge’s comments.