Saturday, February 27, 2016

Minister Irani stares at privilege motio

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi, Feb. 26: 

Opposition MPs plan to move a privilege motion against Smriti Irani accusing her of misleading Parliament on the events surrounding Rohith Vemula's suicide at a Hyderabad Central University hostel.
Led by the Congress and the Left, they want to focus on Irani's claim in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that no doctor was allowed near Rohith to revive him and his body "was used as a political tool".

Rajasree Malpath, chief medical officer at the varsity health centre, has said she had reached the hostel within minutes of receiving an alert and found Rohith dead.
Rohith's friends today corroborated her and said they had contacted her immediately after the body's discovery.

"The minister has clearly lied to Parliament and tried to mislead the House. It is a breach of privilege of Parliament. The details are being worked out and the privilege notice would be moved on Monday morning," a senior Congress member said.
Efforts are on to secure the signatures of a large number of Opposition leaders on the privilege notice to make it difficult for the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha to dismiss it.

Irani had refrained from making the "no doctor was allowed" claim in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, the day Malpath's clarification became public. But the Opposition wants to move the privilege motion in both Houses.

"We'll use newspaper clippings in which (Malpath) has denied the charge levelled by the minister," a Janata Dal United member said.

A privilege motion can be moved by any lawmaker against anyone accused of breaching House members' privileges, that is, their special rights and immunities.
The two Houses have separate privilege committees, made up of their members. The Speaker and the Chairperson can dismiss privilege notices, or refer them to the privilege committee, or get a sense of the House before taking a decision.
If the notice is admitted, the committee can summon Irani, question her and recommend action. Historically, privilege motions have mostly been kept pending. Often, they have been withdrawn following an apology from the accused.

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