Fate of suspended Rajya Sabha MPs hangs in balance as Opposition refuses to say sorry

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upper house, parliamentary affairs, Congress, MP, ls

Opposition raised the issue of suspension of 12 members for the remainder of the winter session in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, alleging that rules were breached while taking the decision, but emphasised that they are not going to tender an apology.

Congress, DMK and Left members staged a walkout when Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu reasoned that due process has been followed. Eight Opposition leaders, led by Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, met Naidu and suggested that the Chair do a rethink on the suspension and revoke it.

Sources said Naidu conveyed to them that this can be taken up only when the House is in order and the suspended members tender a sincere regret for their misconduct. The Opposition has maintained that the members will not apologise though one suggestion was that Kharge can state that “let bygones be bygones” and such acts should not be repeated. When the Rajya Sabha proceedings began on Tuesday, Kharge cited Rule 256(2) of Rules of Procedure and underlined that government has flouted it.

He said the Chair had not named the suspended members on August 11, 2021 when they had disrupted the House; that since the incident occurred in the last session, as per this rule, the members could have been suspended only for the remainder of that session. Naidu countered these arguments, saying the decision to suspend the 12 members is not his personal call but a collective decision of the House; that Rajya Sabha is a continuing institution and so acts of misconduct of the erring members in the last session can be taken cognisance of in this session.

He also mentioned the August 11 bulletin of the House which named 33 members for misconduct. Congress, DMK and the Left staged a walkout from the House in protest. Rule 256(2) states: If a member is so named by the Chairman he shall forthwith put the question on a motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, that the member (naming him) be suspended from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session: Government is adamant that the suspended members at least express regret for the ruckus created in the Upper House on August 11 over the Farm Laws repeal and Pegasus issues.

With most of the Opposition absent in the Rajya Sabha in the second half due to the walkout, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi suggested to the Chair that the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 be taken up for discussion on Wednesday so that opposition can participate. Congress has indicated that the boycott of the House was only for a day and its members will attend from Wednesday onwards.

The Opposition will, however, continue to protest at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament House against the suspension. The proceedings in the House are not likely to be smooth as the Opposition has lined up several issues to be raked in the coming days.

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