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Did Raghav Chadha forge signatures on AAP motion?


Delhi services bill: What’s the ‘forged signatures’ row involving Raghav Chadha?

AAP MP Raghav Chadha participates in a debate on Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi(Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on Monday. Chadha has been accused of forging signatures of five MPs in a motion to send the Delhi services bill to a select committe. PTI

In the fight between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the former has got the upper hand now. The Narendra Modi-led government has now got control of Delhi as the Parliament has approved the contentious Delhi services bill. It gives sweeping powers to the Lt Governor, appointed by the Centre. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has opposed the bill and now Raghav Chadha could be in trouble over it.

What are the allegations against Raghav Chadha?

The AAP leader is embroiled in a controversy after five Rajya Sabha MPs on Monday demanded to move a Privilege Motion against him alleging that their “forged signatures” were added to the proposed select committee on the Delhi services bill, formally called Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, without their consent. The Select Committee was proposed by Chadha in the Upper House to examine the bill.

While the bill got approved in Parliament on Monday night when it cleared in Rajya Sabha, four days after its passage in Lok Sabha, it has now put the AAP MP in a spot.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also alleged fraud in a motion moved by AAP. Before the bill was voted on, he responded to the debate in Rajya Sabha, on Monday saying that the motion has names of five MPs that were included fraudulently and that the matter needs to be investigated by Parliament’s Privilege Committee.

AAP had on Monday moved the motion to send the controversial bill to a Select Committee. It was, however, negated by a voice vote.

“Two MPs are now claiming that they did not second it. Sasmit Patra of the BJD said he never gave consent for inclusion in the motion. How could his name be taken,” Shah alleged, leading to an uproar in the House.

Delhi services bill Whats the forged signatures row involving Raghav Chadha
Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday. He has said that the issue of forged signatures matter needs to be investigated by Parliament’s Privilege Committee. PTI

The five MPs in question are Narhari Amin, Sudhanshu Trivedi, and S Phangnon Konyak of the BJP, BJD’s Sasmit Patra, and M Thambidurai of the AIADMK. They have all given individual notices of breach of privilege against Chadha, reports NDTV.

Patra told News18, “Consent has to be taken of the respective person [to add their name to a motion]. Without having taken consent from that person you cannot move it. So that’s a very clear violation…”

He said that it was not only his name but there were a few other names from the BJP and other parties like Sudhanshu Trivedi, Narhari Amin and Konyak. “All of them found their name listed. It is all very shocking… I didn’t put my name… You have to ask him [Chadha] how did that come about? All that I heard was my name being announced for a subject for which I had never given a consent,” he added.

Also read: How Delhi services bill will change the power dynamics in the Capital

What is Raghav Chadha and AAP saying?

Responding to the allegations, Chadha said that he would respond if the Privilege Committee sends him a notice. “Let a Privilege Committee send me a notice. I will give my answer to the committee.”

Defending Chadha, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party claimed that the rules of proceedings state there is “no written consent or signature of the member whose name has been proposed” required when proposing a Select Committee. Hence there is no question of “forged signature”.

According to a News18 report, sources in the AAP said, “The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, which has been quoted by Members moving privilege against Raghav Chadha nowhere provides that there is a requirement of a written consent or signature of the member whose name has been proposed to be included to the Select Committee.”

“The names of complainant MPs were given in good faith with a view that they have been participating on the discussion concerning the bill, inside and out the parliament, and that they would be keen to become members of a select committee to discuss this bill even further,” they added. “The Select Committee reflects the diversity of opinion of the members of the house and is non-partisan in nature since it includes members from all the parties in the Rajya Sabha.”

Delhi services bill Whats the forged signatures row involving Raghav Chadha
AAP MP Raghav Chadha at Parliament House complex in New Delhi. File photo/PTI

The AAP sources went on to say that the rules clearly state that the names of members can be withdrawn if they have no intention to be part of a select committee. “Only presumption of consent or inclination of a member to be part of the select committee is required. No written contest or signature is required anywhere. There was no intention on the part of Raghav Chadha to corner any member,” the party maintained.

Taking on Amit Shah, AAP’s Sanjay Singh said, “Don’t you know the rules of Parliament proceedings? Any member can propose his/her colleague’s name for the select committee and you don’t need signatures. Stop spreading lies. Your party’s job is to spread falsehood but why lie on every issue?”

What is the Congress saying?

Congress has come in support of the AAP over the controversy. MP Shakti Singh Gohil said that if a member does not want to be on the committee, his/her name will be removed automatically. “There is no provision to take the signature of any member whose name has been mentioned in the proposal,” the lawmaker told news agency ANI.

What happens next?

After Shah demanded that the matter be looked into, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh announced a probe into the complaints on Monday. “Four members have sent a complaint to me. It will be inquired into,” said Harivansh.

With inputs from agencies

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