Privilege panel had found her guilty of breach of privilege of Speaker

Chandigarh:The Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was on Thursday pardoned by Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon after a House committee held her guilty of breach of privilege of the Speaker and recommended a seven-day suspension.

The privilege committee of the House headed by Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Sarabjit Singh Makkar was set up after members led by Ms. Bhattal staged a protest during the last Assembly session on December 10.

The Committee in its report held Ms. Bhattal guilty of breach of privilege of the Speaker and lowering his image by resorting to unruly behaviour and casting aspersions against the Chair during the protest. It recommended that she be suspended from the Assembly for seven days.

However, Local Government Minister Manoranjan Kalia (BJP) intervened and urged that Ms. Bhattal's punishment be reduced to two days.

“The Speaker's chair is an institution...it is the duty of everyone to give due respect to it,” Mr. Kalia said, adding that “the House could have annulled the membership of Ms. Bhattal but her punishment must be reduced to two days”.

Accepts mistake

“Ms. Bhattal had even accepted before the House Committee that her conduct was incorrect,” Ms. Kalia said.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Tikshan Sud (BJP), who had raised the question of privilege against Ms. Bhattal, said she should get exemplary punishment so that indiscipline during House proceedings could be stopped.

Congress members slammed the committee's recommendations as “fascist and feudal” and urged the Speaker to reject the report.

Rana K.P. (Cong.) urged the Speaker not to set a “wrong precedent” by taking action against Ms. Bhattal.

Treasury benches members, including Minister Mohan Lal (BJP) and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (SAD), advised Ms. Bhattal to stand up and seek an apology but Ms. Bhattal remained unmoved.

Avtar Singh Brar (Cong.) also urged the Speaker to forgive Ms. Bhattal.

The Speaker intervened and advised the members to pardon Ms. Bhattal. Members from the Opposition and treasury benches hailed the Speaker's decision which led him to quip that the two sides “should continue to maintain the love and warmth for each other”.

The Speaker later adjourned the House for the day, over an hour ahead of schedule, with the consent of members. -- PTI