Privilege Committee asked to attend unscheduled meeting on January 20

With National Conference legislators firm on the privilege motion against the former Army chief, General (retired) V.K. Singh, the Privilege Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council was on Wednesday asked to attend an unscheduled meeting on January 20. The scheduled meeting was to be held on January 22.

State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz, according to informed political sources, has received “instructions” from New Delhi to use his influence to ensure that Gen. Singh was not censured for the television interview that sparked a political controversy last year. Gen. Singh is alleged to have denigrated J&K ministers — essentially members of the Legislature — by purportedly saying that they had been receiving secret Central funds “continuously since 1947.”

Even as Upper House Chairman Amrit Malhotra maintained that there was “no further development,” sources told The Hindu that an emergency meeting had been called for next Monday. “The Additional Secretary serving the committee is on a tour. There’s no further development,” Mr. Malhotra said.

However, the sources insisted that a meeting was being convened for January 20, in which Congress members — Jugal Kishore Sharma, Ravinder Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Monga — would contend that there was no need for the former Army Chief’s appearance after his “written clarification.” Upper House Secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir refused to comment on the issue. He confirmed that a letter had been received from Gen. Singh’s attorney claiming that an annexure should be treated as clarification from the accused. “But, there’s no annexure of clarification. As decided by the committee on January 9, he has been summoned to appear on January 22,” Mr. Mir said.

“Everything has been fixed. In a 3:3 split, committee chairman Jugal Kishore would refer the matter to the House chairman whose ruling would be pivotal,” said an informed source. He said the Congress members would question how the complainant, NC’s Devinder Singh Rana, would also sit as a judge in the matter.

The NC’s three members — Mr. Rana, Ali Mohammad Dar and Showkat Hussain Ganai — have made their stand clear that they would strongly contest any possible attempt by the Congress to “shield” the accused. Mr. Rana told The Hindu that he had taken note of Mr Soz’s statements that calling Gen. Singh to the House would be undemocratic and would service no purpose. “I will respond to Mr. Soz with an appropriate answer, at an appropriate time”, Mr. Rana said.

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