Suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs: Opposition calls it ‘dictatorship’, Centre justifies action

Leaders of the 12 opposition parties unitedly condemned the suspension and termed it as “unwarranted and undemocratic” and said this was done in “violation of all the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha”.

Leaders of the 12 opposition parties unitedly condemned the suspension and termed it as "unwarranted and undemocratic" and said this was done in "violation of all the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha".

As many as 12 opposition MPs were suspended from Rajya Sabha on Monday for the entire Winter session of the Parliament for their “unruly” conduct in the previous session in August, even as the Opposition termed the suspension as “undemocratic and in violation of all the Rules of Procedure” of the Upper House.

The suspended MPs are — six from the Congress, two each from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena, and one each from CPI and CPM. The motion to suspend Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora, Rajamani Patel, Syed Nasir Hussain and Akhilesh Prasad Singh of the Congress; Dola Sen, Shanta Chhetri of Trinamool Congress; Priyanka Chaturvedi, Anil Desai of Shiv Sena; Elamaram Kareem of CPM; and Binoy Viswam of CPI was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi.

It was passed by voice vote despite objections by opposition parties. The motion was brought under rule 256 – which provides for suspending a member for “disregard” of the authority of the Chair or “abuse” of the rules of the Council by “persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof.”

“That this House takes cognizance and strongly condemns the utter disregard to the authority of the Chair, complete abuse of the rules of the House persistently thereby wilfully obstructing the business of House through their, unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly, and violent behaviour and intentional attacks on security personnel on the last day of 254th Session of Rajya Sabha (Monsoon Session) ie August 11, 2021, thereby lowering the dignity of and bringing disrepute to this August House,” the resolution read.

Leaders of the 12 opposition parties unitedly condemned the suspension and termed it as “unwarranted and undemocratic” and said this was done in “violation of all the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha”.

“The motion moved by the Government for suspending the members in regard to the unfortunate incident that occurred in the previous session is unprecedented and violates the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha),” a joint statement signed by leaders of the opposition parties said.

The signatories of the statement are — Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and other members of the Congress, DMK, SP, NCP, Shiv Sena, RJD, CPI(M), CPI, IUML, LJD, JDS, MDMK, TRS and AAP.

Asked about the suspension, Joshi said the Opposition has been continuously disrupting the house but on August 11, the last day of the Monsoon session it “crossed all limits”. “They manhandled marshals, tried to attack the security staff…MPs from opposition parties danced on the Secretary General’s table. The opposition has the right to disrupt but is this the way to disrupt”, Joshi told reporters.

Joshi on Monday wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, noting that the 12 suspended members caused irreversible disgrace to the House and demanded “exemplary remedy which will not only act as deterrence but also restore the credibility of Parliament”.

Narrating in detail the incidents, the minister in the letter dubbed their behaviour as “unlawful, criminal and contemptuous”. “The 254th Session of Rajya Sabha would indeed be counted as most reprehensible and shameful session in our Parliamentary history,” Joshi said about the Monsoon session.

“These unfathomable circumstances demand exemplary remedy which would not only act as deterrence against any such future unruly and violent incidents but also endeavour to restore the credibility of Parliament in the eyes of its electorate. It is our bounden duty to set the highest standard of personal and professional conduct and any deviance therefrom should invite strictest measures,” Joshi said.

Justifying the action against the MPs, top government sources said during the Monsoon session the Opposition broke many conventions of protests and adopted a violent approach. The opposition did not even allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce his Council of Ministers after a reshuffle-cum-expansion exercise, they said.

Reacting to her suspension, Chaturvedi tweeted “If speaking for farmers, against privatisation that goes against people, sells family silver for sarkari PR calls for suspension, then I ask: how weak are you to not be able to answer on basis of parliamentary democracy? Will continue to speak for people inside & outside the parliament.”

She further tweeted “even the rules don’t permit carrying forward taking action from one session to another. Rule 256.”

Accusing the BJP government of indulging in “dictatorship”, TMC’s Sen alleged that it was “attacking the Constitution and democracy”.

The last day of the Monsoon Session had witnessed chaotic scenes with marshals being called in as Opposition members had protested over various issues and demanded a discussion on the farmers’ agitation and the Pegasus snooping row among other matters. The entire Monsoon session was washed out due to the opposition protests.

The government had accused the Opposition of not only creating unruly scenes in the well of the House but also accused some of them of manhandling a woman marshal in the House. The Opposition had alleged that additional people were called in and some leaders were attacked.

As soon as the House assembled at 3:10 PM after two successive adjournments, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was presiding the session, permitted Joshi to move the motion. Immediately after the proposal was moved by Joshi, Deputy Chairman declared the motion to be adopted by a voice vote amidst the protest of the opposition parties. He declared the 12 members as “suspended for the remaining part of the current session” and adjourned the House till Tuesday.

Though Rule 256 has been used in the past as well to suspend MPs of the Upper House, this is probably for the first time 12 MPs have been suspended for the entire session.

The Rule was last used in July this year to suspend Santanu Sen. Prior to that, the rule was used to suspend 8 MPs – Syed Nasir Hussain, Ripur Bora, Rajeev Satav (all Congress), Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem (both CPM) in September last year.

It was used to terminate Sabir Ali and Subhash Prasad Yadav on April 23, 2010, and April 28, 2010, respectively. In March 2010, 7 SP MPs were suspended using the same rule. Prior to 2010, the rule was used sparingly in 1987 1974, 1971, 1967, 1966 and 1962.

(With PTI inputs)

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