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AAP says Raghav Chadha didn’t violate Rajya Sabha rules. ‘Ball in chairman’s court,’ says BJD MP


New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Tuesday struck a defiant note over allegations that its Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha included without consent the names of five MPs from across parties in a list of members of a proposed select committee constituted to examine the Delhi services bill.

On Monday, Chadha landed in a controversy during the debate on the bill after Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanded privilege proceedings against him, claiming five MPs had complained that their names were listed in the proposed committee by “forging” their signatures.

Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was the presiding officer of the house when the row erupted, promptly announced that “the matter will be enquired [into]”. He, however, did not clarify if the issue will be referred to the privilege committee of the house.

Chadha, while leaving the Parliament House after the bill was passed Monday, had told the media that he will respond to the privilege committee if a notice was served to him. He refused to comment on the allegations raised by Shah.

While at least one of the five MPs whose names were allegedly included on the list of members of the select committee without their consent, maintained the same while talking to ThePrint, AAP Rajya Sabha MP and one of the party’s spokespersons, Sanjay Singh, who is serving a suspension from the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament for “violating” directives of the chair, claimed that it was not necessary for taking the consent of the member whose name has been proposed to be included in a select committee.

Meanwhile, constitutional experts ThePrint spoke to said any member can move a motion to refer a bill to a select committee, but if he/she includes the names of other MPs in the list of members of the proposed committee without ascertaining their willingness, it amounts to violation of parliamentary rules. However, they added that violation of rules does not amount to breach of privilege.

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was passed Monday night by the Rajya Sabha in spite of the opposition’s concerted efforts to stall the legislation, including sending it to a select committee of the House.

The passage of the bill paves the way for the Delhi services ordinance, which takes away the powers of the Delhi government to transfer and post civil servants, to now become a law.

Also Read: Postings, transfers, what else? AAP says Delhi govt reduced to NGO, experts split on what ordinance means

‘Is he unaware of rules?’

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Rajya Sabha member Sasmit Patra, one of the MPs whose name was mentioned on the proposal to send the bill to the select committee alleged Tuesday that his consent was not taken before including his name in the motion.

“How can my name be put in a motion without my consent? I have complained to the Rajya Sabha chairman in the matter. The ball is now in the chairman’s court,” Patra told ThePrint, citing rule 72(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).

The rule states, “No member shall be appointed to a Select Committee if he is not willing to serve on the Committee. The mover shall ascertain whether a member proposed to be named by him is willing to serve on the Committee.”

Patra added that he had not been called by the chairman’s office in the matter yet.

Meanwhile, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said in a statement that “An unconstitutional bill was cleared by the Parliament and the union home minister was desperately demanding that Raghav Chadha’s name be sent to the privilege committee. Is he unaware of the rules? Nowhere does the rules say that a member’s signature is required for his name to be added to a proposed select committee. He [Amit Shah] is deceiving the people.”

Singh also added that Shah should be the last person to speak on privileges as “he repeatedly took the name of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and made allegations against him despite the fact that the latter is not a member of Parliament.”

While Shah did not name the members whose names were allegedly listed by Chadha without their consent, BJD MP Sasmit Patra, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) MP M. Thambidurai and BJP MP S. Phangnon Konyak were among those who registered their protest against Chadha while the bill was being taken up for voting.

‘Violation of rules does not invoke breach of privilege’

While constitutional experts ThePrint spoke said including the names of other MPs in the list of members of the proposed committee without ascertaining their willingness did amount to violation, it did not necessarily mean breach of privilege.

“Violation of rules does not mean a breach of privilege. If Raghav Chaddha did not take the members’ consent it’s a violation of rules,” P.D.T. Achary, former Lok Sabha secretary general told ThePrint.

Achary added that violation of rules can invite punishment, but rule 72 does not specify what punishment.

“The chairman can express his serious displeasure or if the House feels very strongly about the matter, it can adapt a motion to censure the member. This is the practice,” Achary added.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Can Parliament amend Constitution to strip Delhi govt of ‘services’? SC’s ordinance plea stumper


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