Special Correspondent

Shekhawat, Somnath Chatterjee examining privilege notice

  • 33 hours of work time already lost in the monsoon session
  • Government can offer to discuss report
  • Dasmunsi to contact party leaders to bring normalcy to Parliament

    NEW DELHI: Notices for breach of privilege against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in relation with the leaking of the Pathak Inquiry Authority report to the media before it was placed in Parliament were under consideration of Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Speaker of the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. The Government, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi emphasised, had no role to play in the decision making by the two chairs.

    Objecting to the manner in which the Opposition disrupted proceedings in the two Houses of Parliament here on Monday, Mr. Dasmunsi said 33 hours of work time had already been lost in this short monsoon session. A leak had occurred and it had to be established who was responsible for it.

    The two presiding officers had received notices of breach of privilege and he could say or comment nothing, as it was now up to them to decide the course of action.

    On Friday, the Opposition had disrupted proceedings demanding immediate tabling of the Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority report.

    "Record time"

    In less than 72 hours, the Government had "in record time" placed the report in Parliament along with the Action Taken Report, Mr. Dasmunsi said.

    Portions of the Subramaniam Committee report looking at intelligence failure and other matters related to the Kargil war had also found their way into some newspapers and magazines, he noted, but that could not be a justification for disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

    Mr. Dasmunsi also said that the Pathak Inquiry Authority had completed its task in the shortest possible time "in the most transparent manner." The "leak" was unfortunate, but he would not blame journalists for they can get their news from any source and are not bound to reveal their sources.

    He added that on behalf of the Prime Minister and himself, he would contact party leaders in an effort to bring back normalcy to Parliament. If they had any queries, the Government was bound to respond in Parliament.

    "I appeal to all party leaders to help Parliament function. If the Opposition is keen to discuss the report, we are prepared to do so, provided the Business Advisory Committees of the two Houses allots time."

    Mr. Dasmunsi added: "Despite the effort of the Opposition to target the Prime Minister, his stature remains tall, here and abroad. I can say confidently that nothing wrong was done at the behest of the Prime Minister."