Cong yet to file complaint, canít take suo motu action: Speaker

Aired live, expunged, still on 'air'. The Parliament Secretariat is looking for answers to a query of Punjab Assembly speaker Charanjit Atwal as to what action can be taken when expletives aired live on television channels, but expunged later, are being screened publicly by the Opposition. The next such screening is scheduled in Moga, which goes to bypoll on February 23.

Describing it as the first of its kind breach of House privilege in the country, Atwal had said the Parliament Secretariat will reply in writing to his query. However, he now contended that the crisis would not have originated had the Congress formally filed a complaint against Revenue and Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who hurled the expletives at Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh in the winter session.

"The Opposition has not filed a petition before me or the privileges committee of the House. I cannot take suo motu action. A resolution for Rana's expulsion was mooted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal and was passed by a majority. It is unfortunate that the Opposition is accusing me of bias. I would have been guilty had I not acted on their complaint. Both me and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal waited for them in my chamber to resolve the issue. But they did not come, which created the entire controversy. A Speaker has to run the House, he cannot be one-sided," Atwal said.

However, according to constitutional experts, rules permit a Speaker to take suo motu action if he was present in the chair at the time of abusive behaviour. "Normally, the Speaker acts when a petition is filed by any member. But he can also take suo motto action if he was in the chair. There are several instances when speakers have done so," said Delhi-based constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap.

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