Serious differences have cropped up in the Legislative Assembly Committee constituted by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah to probe the porn watching scandal involving three former Ministers with opinion divided over the issue of summoning a dozen more Opposition MLAs for allegedly watching sleazy videos during the session.

Based on CCTV footage, which showed several other MLAs also indulging in watching videos and clips on mobile phones on February 7, the day on which the three former Ministers were caught watching porn, Inquiry Committee member Nehru Olekar had favoured issue of summons to 15 MLAs, including Congress and JD (S) members.

Mr. Olekar had told reporters in Haveri that Opposition MLAs, who were using mobile phones in the House in violation of the rules, would also be summoned for inquiry.

But, another member of the Committee, who did not wish to be identified, told The Hindu on Sunday that Mr. Olekar's suggestion was strongly contested by other members during the last meeting held on Thursday.

“We opposed the suggestion to summon other MLAs from the Opposition. The terms of reference for the panel is confined to probing the role of the three former Ministers – Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and Krishna Palemar,” he said.

The CCTV footage had captured a Congress MLA scanning photographs on his mobile. Other MLAs were also found using their mobiles either to talk or seeing messages. “It would be a gross deviation from the terms of reference to include other MLAs for innocuous use of the mobile devices. Any decision to cover other MLAs not only requires the Speaker's permission, but also incurs the wrath of the public.”

There was no unanimity on the issue of summoning Opposition MLAs. “It was only decided to summon the three former Ministers on March 8. We have completed the questioning of the television channel representatives. A report will be submitted on March 20,” he said.

State Congress president G. Parameshwara termed Mr. Olekar's move as an attempt to “hush up” the truth.

A member of the committee also questioned Mr. Olekar's authority to air the panel's views in public. “It is the chairperson of the committee Shrishailappa Bidarur, who is authorised to speak.” However, Mr. Bidarur was not available for comment.

The Speaker had constituted a seven-member committee to probe the scandal. However, three members of the Opposition parties – H.C. Mahadevappa and Amare Gowda Bayyapur of the Congress and Dinkar Shetty of the JD (S) —have boycotted the panel, reducing it to an all-BJP committee. The committee headed by Mr. Bidarur comprises Mr. Olekar, S.R. Vishwanath and Suresh Gowda.

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