Speaker rejects demand for Chacko’s removal

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Meira Kumar
New Delhi, May 2: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Thursday rejected the Opposition demand for removal of P C Chacko as Chairman of the JPC probing the 2G scam, citing "absence of express provisions in rules".

In a letter to JPC members, Ms Kumar said that rules and directions are "silent" on the removal of the chairman of a parliamentary committee and urged the Chairman and the members of the JPC to work out an agreeable solution to end the current "impasse" and produce, adopt and place a report before Parliament according to the rules.

Fifteen members from Opposition parties including from former UPA allies DMK and Trinamool Congress, had earlier written separate letters to the Speaker contending that they have "no confidence" in the JPC Chairman and had appealed to her to immediately replace him with another member of the panel on allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum.

Countering the allegations, the JPC members belonging to Congress have also written to the Speaker refuting the contentions made by the Opposition members.

Expressing "anguish" over the contentions expressed in the letters, the Speaker asked the Chairman and the members to "sink" their differences.

"The faith reposed by Parliament is betrayed by trading allegations against each other. It is, therefore, necessary for the Chairman and the members to sink their differences and present a report as mandated by Parliament," she said.

Noting that the question of replacing the JPC Chairman has been examined in the light of the existing rules and the past practice in this regard, Ms Kumar said "...Due to absence of express provisions in the rules, it will be difficult to remove the chairman of any parliamentary committee."

She said, "It is a different matter if the Chairman himself resigns from the Chairmanship."

The Speaker said, "In view of the above, I urge upon the Chairman and the members of the JPC to work out an agreeable solution to end the current impasse and produce a report after adopting the same according to rules, place it before Parliament."

The Speaker also rejected the contention of some Congress members that JPC members from BJP -Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad - should be barred from attending the proceedings of the panel, saying they were instrumental in the decision-making process related to telecom between 1998 and 2004.

Referring to a 2011 ruling by her on the issue of conflict of interest, Ms. Kumar said the membership of the Council of Ministers during the earlier period would not constitute any personal, pecuniary or direct interest unless such members have some other personal, pecuniary or direct interest referred to in direction 52-A.

"Hence these members are not barred from taking part in the proceedings of the Committee," the Speaker contended.

Six Congress members including E M S Natchiappan had on April 25 written to the Speaker that Mr. Sinha and Mr. Prasad were instrumental in the decision-making process related to telecom and hence, it would not be fair to allow them to sit in judgement on their own decisions.

Asking the Chairman and the members to sort out their differences, Ms. Kumar reminded them that Parliament in its wisdom, has entrusted to the Chairman and the members of JPC the responsibility of examining the issues relating to allocation and pricing of telecom licenses and spectrum and to report back within a specified time-frame.

"In any case, Rule 261 provides that all questions and sitting of a Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting. All contentious issues can, therefore, be resolved by the Committee having recourse to this Rule," the Speaker noted.

PTI

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