The Lok Sabha secretariat on Wednesday turned down the request of DMK ministers to answer questions in Tamil but said party MPs could ask questions and make speeches in the language as there was provision for it in the constitution.

“According to the precedence in the house, the ministers should answer the questions either in English or Hindi,” said Lok Sabha secretary general P.D.T. Achary.

The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers M.K. Azhagiri had said in Chennai on Tuesday that the DMK ministers and MPs had made a request to parliament authorities to allow them to raise and answer questions in Tamil.

“Files containing the answers to questions are written in English and Hindi. So the ministers will have to reply either in English or in Hindi,” Mr. Achary said.

Mr. Achary, however, said MPs could ask questions and make speeches in their regional languages. “There is provision in the constitution in this regard. But ministers are not included in this provision.”

AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa on Monday supported Azhagiri’s request that the Lok Sabha secretariat should extend an ‘interpreter service’ to him to answer the queries of MPs in Tamil. She said ministers who do not know Hindi and English would remain mute spectators if the interpreter service was not extended.

Referring to reports that Mr. Azhagiri has been disappearing from the Lok Sabha during question hour and his deputy had to reply to the questions, Ms. Jayalalithaa had said: “Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who boasts of being the person responsible for getting classical language status to Tamil, has failed to ensure the opportunity for his son to speak in Tamil in the Lok Sabha.”

Taking a dig at Mr. Karunanidhi, the AIADMK leader also said the Chief Minister failed to safeguard the dignity of Tamil in the Lok Sabha and asked him to withdraw his party from the union cabinet.