Chief Minister appealed to Speaker to reduce quantum of punishment

The Assembly on Tuesday reduced from one year to six months the quantum of punishment handed to six members of the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam.

On Monday, the members were suspended from the Assembly for one year following a recommendation made by the Committee of Privileges, which considered the reference made by the Speaker, P. Dhanapal, on the attack on Radhapuram MLA S. Michael Rayappan on February 8.

Immediately after Question Hour, Opposition parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and Congress, tabled a special call attention motion, seeking minimum punishment for the DMDK MLAs.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa appealed to the Speaker at the end of the discussion to reduce the punishment period by six months, taking into consideration the sentiments expressed by the Opposition. The Speaker then read out the submission made by the Chief Minister which was later tabled as a resolution by the Leader of the House, O. Panneerselvam.

Mr. Panneerselvam said the Speaker could have ordered suo motu suspension of the DMDK members on February 8 for the incident that took place in full view of the House. Unlike in the previous Assembly, the Speaker referred the issue to the Committee of Privileges and action was initiated on the basis of its recommendation, the Finance Minister said, adding that this only demonstrated the AIADMK’s commitment to democratic values. Even as the motion was put to voice vote, the DMK members, led by M. K. Stalin, appealed to the Speaker to consider reducing the punishment further. When the motion was passed, they staged a walkout.

The Speaker announced that the six DMDK members – V. C. Chandhirakumar (Erode East), K. Nallathambi (Egmore), D. Murugesan (Chengalpattu), S. Senthilkumar (Tiruverumbur), B. Parthasarathy (Virugambakkam) and R. Arulselvan (Mayiladuthurai) – would remain suspended from the House for six months and would not draw salary or other perks entitled to them during the period.

Earlier, speaking on the motion, Mr. Stalin explained that the party staged a walkout on Monday as it felt that the quantum of punishment was high. His reference to the suspension of AIADMK member A. K. Bose in the previous Assembly led to sharp exchanges between the DMK members and the Treasury benches.

While Mr. Stalin quoted from Assembly records that Mr. Bose was suspended for 10 days, the AIADMK member clarified that he was on suspension for four months including 10 days in the following session. He was not paid salary during the period and his room in the MLAs’ Hostel remained locked.

During discussion, C. K. Thamizharasan of Republican Party of India said that the action taken against the six MLAs to protect the dignity of the House was appropriate. However, the Speaker could reconsider it and award minimum punishment. M. K. Jawahirullah of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi felt that the suspension period could be confined to the current session. S. Gunasekaran of CPI said that though the party did not endorse their behaviour, the punishment could be minimum as the suspended legislators were first-time members.

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