Tharoor also circulated the three-page letter to all the members of the panel.
Lok Sabha MP and Chairperson of Standing Committee on Information Technology Shashi Tharoor yesterday took strong exception to the last-minute refusal by officials of three ministries to attend a meeting related to the Pegasus snooping issue called by the panel. Tharoor wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla urging him to take cognisance of the matter while terming the officials’ conduct a breach of Parliamentary privilege and contempt of the House.
The Parliamentary Panel had called representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ministry of Home Affairs, and Department of Telecommunication to discuss Citizens’ Data Security and Privacy. While the meeting did not happen due to a lack of quorum as the 10 BJP MPs did not sign the attendance register, Tharoor chose to take up the officials’ conduct with the Speaker.
The Standing Committee has a total of 31 members and the presence of 10 members are needed for a quorum. After the BJP members did not sign the attendance register, only nine remained for the meeting on Wednesday.
Tharoor also circulated the three-page letter to all the members of the panel. He said that while all the three Ministries/ Department had confirmed their participation, they informed at the last minute that they will not be able to appear before the Committee.
Tharoor wrote that as Chairperson of the committee he did not excuse these witnesses from attendance and cited Direction 59(1) by Speaker which says a ministry should be represented by the Secretary or the Head of the Department if required to give evidence before a committee on any matter.
On the other hand, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who is also a member of the panel, had moved a privilege motion against Tharoor and demanded his removal as the Chairperson of the panel.