Speaker G.Karthikeyan informed the Assembly on Monday that the Privileges and Ethics Committee of the House would inquire into the allegations raised by the Opposition against Chief Whip P.C. George over his comments on political leaders.

In a ruling issued on the basis of a notice submitted by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, he said the Assembly Committee was empowered to examine and report on allegations about the conduct of members, both inside and outside the House. The ruling said the issue was being referred to the committee under Sections 250(2) and 250(3) of the rules of conduct of the Assembly.

Mr. Karthikeyan said Mr. George had on several occasions, faced similar allegations over his utterances outside the House. “On each occasion, he had expressed regret and the House had accepted it. This time, however, the charge against him is that he had crossed the limits of decency in his comments on political leaders held in high esteem”. Leader of the Opposition V.S.Achuthanandan and CPI leader C. Divakaran said the decision to refer the issue to the Ethics Committee would only serve to postpone action against Mr. George indefinitely. Mr .Karthikeyan replied that the committee would be asked to submit its report within a reasonable period of time.

The Speaker also reprimanded CPI member V.S. Sunilkumar for brandishing his slipper during a vociferous protest against Mr. George in the Assembly on March 15. “Based on a complaint submitted by Joseph Vazhakkan, the Chair examined the video footage of the protest and found the allegation to be true”. Mr. Karthikeyan warned that such unbecoming acts on the part of any member would invite stern action from the Chair.

Just before the budget presentation on March 15, the Opposition had raised a din in the House demanding action against Mr. George for his remarks against JSS leader K.R. Gouri and the late CPI leader T.V. Thomas aired by a television channel. During the uproar, Mr..Sunilkumar had brandished his slipper to signify his protest against Mr. George.

Mr. Karthikeyan said members of the House were expected to maintain decorum in their words and action at all times. “Failure to do so is extremely painful and will affect their dignity as well as that of the House. Democratic institutions survive on the trust imposed by the public. Betrayal of that trust will erode the very foundations of the institutions.”

Following the Speaker’s ruling, Mr. Sunilkumar expressed regret over his action in the House. He said it had been a spontaneous outrage against the Chief Whip for his intemperate comments against a senior political leader.