All-party meet: V-P flags ‘free fall of info’ in name of freedom of speech, Oppn questions appointment of staff


PTI, Mar 12, 2023, 8:26 PM IST

Image credit: PTI / File

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday sought views of leaders of various political parties on ways to curb disruptions in the House at a meeting held on the eve of the start of the second phase of the Budget session.

Opposition members raised the issue of alleged misuse of central agencies against non-BJP governments and the move to appoint Dhankhar’s personal staff on parliamentary committees.

Sources said that during his interaction with floor leaders, Vice-President Dhankhar mainly flagged the issue of whether disruptions can be allowed and if members can have a ”free fall of information” in the name of free speech in the House as envisaged in Article 105 of the Constitution.

The article deals with freedom of speech in Parliament with certain conditions.

The first phase of the Budget session was overshadowed by the Adani-Hindenburg isssue as the Opposition disrupted proceedings demanding a JPC probe.

Dhankhar had been criticised by opposition parties over his decision to delete some portions of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s speech from official records in Rajya Sabha.

“I cannot allow Rajya Sabha to be an ‘akhara’ (wrestling arena) for free fall of information or allegations against anyone. Make a statement, you are entitled to do it, but authenticate it, be responsible about it,” the vice president had said at an event in Bengaluru early this month.

Leader of House Piyush Goyal, Congress’ Jairam Ramesh, DMK’s M Shanmugam, AAP’s Sanjay Singh and Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav were among those present at the Sunday meeting here.

AAP raised the issue of alleged misuse of investigative agencies and the Adani-Hindenburg matter.

Its leader and former deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia has been recently arrested by the CBI and the ED in cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. Former Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain is already in jail on charges of money laundering.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Kharge and Dhankhar later had a one-on-one meeting, the sources said.

Several floor leaders raised the issue of the appointment of Dhankhar’s personal staff on parliamentary committees.

The vice president responded by saying that the sole purpose behind the move was to achieve optimisation of human resources and the output of committees.

The staffers were not participating members of the committee and are just there to assist, facilitate and provide research material.

Dhankhar, sources said, asserted that he was committed to improving the functioning of the committees.

AAP’s Sanjay Singh told PTI that on behalf of his party he demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the Adani issue and that the matter be discussed in the House.

He said he also flagged the ”misuse” of central agencies against opposition leaders. He said almost all opposition parties raised the Adani issue and the alleged targeting of opposition leaders by central investigative agencies.

Dhankhar had convened a meeting of floor leaders ahead of the second leg of the Budget session beginning Monday.

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