RS show-cause to TV channel, papers for reporting expunged remarks

However, the remarks were still reported by a TV channel and some newspapers and also made it to the social media.
Hamid Ansari

New Delhi, July 21 : The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is in the process of issuing show-cause notice to a TV news channel and a few newspapers which telecast and published the remarks by an MP that were expunged by the Chair.

Chairman Hamid Ansari on Friday said that he had received a notice for initiating breach of privilege motion against a TV channel and some newspapers, and he had already asked the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to take further action in the matter.

“I have received a notice from some members raising a question of privilege against a TV channel and some newspapers for making defamatory remarks against a member. The Secretariat has been asked to issue show-cause notice and inquire further,” Ansari said, putting the matter to rest.

The Rajya Sabha on Friday witnessed uproar by the opposition and a brief adjournment during Zero Hour over the issue.

The matter pertains to Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal on Wednesday linking the names of a few Hindu gods and goddesses with types of liquor in couplets that he attributed to “BJP people”.

After loud protests by the treasury benches, Agrawal later withdrew the remarks and also expressed regret over it.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, who was presiding over the House at that time, had categorically asked both electronic and print media not to publish/telecast the expunged portion.

The members had also asked the Chair to bar the social media from circulating the inflammatory remarks, in the presence of Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

However, the remarks were still reported by a TV channel and some newspapers and also made it to the social media.

Agrawal raised the issue soon after the upper house of Parliament met for the day on Friday. He said that he was being criticised by the media and threatened by BJP activists over remarks made by him in the House, which he said was a breach of privilege of the House.

Opposition members, irrespective of party affiliations, supported Agrawal and demanded that the Chair initiate breach of privilege proceedings against the erring news channel as well as the publications that carried the remarks expunged from the proceedings of the House.

On Thursday, unidentified persons, claiming to be BJYM members, blackened the nameplate at Agrawal’s 6, Tughlak Lane residence here.

Also, an FIR was lodged against him in Meerut the same day.

Agrawal said that he was also receiving threats.

“This is contempt of this House,” Agrawal said.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma and Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said that under Rule 190 of the Proceedings of Rajya Sabha, the Chair should instantly issue a breach of privilege notice to the erring TV channel and newspapers.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leaders K. Rahman Khan and Pramod Tiwari, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav, CPI-M leader Tapan Sen and Samajwadi Party member Javed Ali Khan too demanded action in the matter.

Anand Sharma observed that it had “become a favourite pastime” for some news channels to “berate, defame, insult, castigate parliamentarians and institutions” during their evening programmes.

However, Kurien said that privilege motion was not “instant coffee” and asked the members to give a notice which would be examined by the Chair.

The opposition members loudly protested against this and asked the Chair to evoke Rule 190 and instantly initiate action in the matter.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “A lot of things appear in the media against government, but we do not initiate breach of privilege proceedings.”

The opposition members then trooped near the podium and started shouting slogans “Bhajapa ki gundagardi nahi chalegi”.

Kurien adjourned the House for 15 minutes amidst the din.

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