He did not sign the members’ attendance register on Monday

Speaker G. Karthikeyan has ruled that CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M.A. Baby’s failure to sign the members’ attendance register on Monday was against the rules of procedures of the Assembly.

The Speaker’s ruling, soon after zero hour in the Assembly on Tuesday, gave a zing to the controversy over Mr. Baby’s absence from the House since the beginning of the session on June 9.

Mr. Baby had been apparently sulking over his party’s refusal to allow him to quit as MLA on moral grounds consequent to his defeat in the Kollam Lok Sabha seat and the huge deficit in votes he had in the Kundara segment of the constituency.

However, the Speaker did leave an option open for Mr. Baby, giving him an opportunity to mark his attendance on the basis of a written request from him. It was IUML MLA K.N.A. Khader who sought a ruling from the Speaker on Mr. Baby’s participation in the voting for the demands for grants without signing the register.

Stating that there was no bar on a member participating in the voting without signing the attendance register, the Speaker took recourse to Rule 172 of the Rules of Procedures of the House while ruling against Mr. Baby.

According to this rule, the Speaker said, the Legislative Secretary is required to maintain the attendance register and all members other than the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Ministers, Opposition leader, and the Government Chief Whip are required to sign.

A member who has not signed the attendance book on any day shall be presumed to have been absent from the Assembly on that day. “It is found that Mr. Baby has not signed in the attendance book but had registered his vote. Under rule 172, Mr. Baby’s failure to sign amounts to a violation of the business rules,” he said.

The register is mainly maintained to facilitate the legislature secretariat to calculate the daily allowance of members. The Speaker usually gives special permission to a member to sign on the register on a written request.

Legislature Secretariat sources said Mr. Baby had not submitted a request till the House rose for the day. However, the former Minister had time to do so till June 30.

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