December 15, 2023
NEW DELHI – Fourteen members of Parliament were suspended on Thursday for the rest of the Winter Session for disregarding directions from the Chair while shouting slogans and demanding a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the breach of security in the Lok Sabha.
Thirteen of the MPs suspended were from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha member suspended was leader of the Trinamul Congress Derek O’Brien. The two Houses saw repeated adjournments as members insisted the Home Minister to come and speak on the Lok Sabha breach of security.
Shouting slogans for proper security in Parliament, Opposition members in the two Houses walked into the wells of the two Houses and did not resume their seats despite directives from Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Five of the Lok Sabha members were suspended early in the day. They were: T N Prathapan, Hibi Eden, S Jothimani, Ramya Haridas and Dean Kuriakose. Just as the House met at 2 pm after an adjournment, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved a motion to suspend the five Congress MPs for the remainder of the session, which is to conclude on 22 December.
BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab was on the chair when the motion was moved and it was adopted by a voice vote amid continuous noisy slogans by the Opposition.
Later, another motion for suspension of the eight opposition MPs was moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister soon after 3 pm and it was adopted by the House. They were Benny Behanan, V K Sreekandan, Mohammad Jawed, P R Natarajan, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, K Subrahmanyam, S Venkatesan and Manickam Tagore.
In the Rajya Sabha, Mr O’Brien was suspended for the remainder of the session on a motion by leader of the House Piyush Goyal after Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said that the member was persisting with “gross defiance” of the Chair by not leaving the House after being named.
When the Trinamul Congress member did not leave the Upper House chamber even after being suspended, the House passed a motion, referring his conduct to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report within three months. The Chairman adjourned the House for the day after that.
Every time the House had met after an adjournment, the Chairman asked Mr O’Brien why was he sitting in the House but the member did not leave.
The Opposition started shouting slogans in the Lok Sabha and demanded the Home Minister’s resignation just as the House met for the Question Hour. The Speaker urged them to restrain themselves and resume their seats.
He said “Security of all in Parliament is my responsibility in my capacity as the Lok Sabha Speaker. I will discuss the issue with you.” Mr Birla told the members shouting against the Home Minister that responsibility of security in Parliament rests with the Parliament Secretariat, particularly it comes under the Lok Sabha purview. Mr Birla was supported by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh saying all had condemned the incident.
The Speaker said “the Government cannot interfere with the jurisdiction of the Secretariat, we will not allow it. Don’t set up wrong precedents. Such incidents have taken place earlier also. We cannot set up new precedents.”
He said everybody is concerned about Wednesday’s incident. “I have discussed the issue with members, and we can discuss it again. The responsibility is of the Lok Sabha Secretariat. The Secretariat will discuss the issue with members again,” he said.
Mr Birla said the House can discuss all incidents, including those in the past, and ensure that no such incidents take place in future. “This is our jurisdiction. I will discuss the issue with you,” he assured.
Mr Joshi moved the suspension motion after apprising the House of the steps taken in the wake of Wednesday’s incident of a security breach in which two men jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the visitor’s gallery.
The Minister said that the Speaker has written to the Home Secretary for a high-level inquiry into the incident and the probe has begun.
He cited instances from 1974 and 1999 when two persons jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber, and in another case, when papers were thrown from the visitors’ gallery, and such unfortunate incidents had occurred earlier too. He called upon opposition members not to “politicise” the issue.