Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan has been asked to appear before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 29 and tender an unconditional apology in the House for his “sexist” remarks against BJP member Rama Devi.
On Friday evening, the Speaker’s office is said to have informed Mr. Khan of the direction to appear before Mr. Birla on Monday. “If Mr. Khan fails to apologise, he may have to face strict action,” sources said.
Earlier in the day, members, cutting across party lines, condemned Mr. Khan’s remarks and demanded “exemplary action” against him.
Mr. Birla assured them that he would call a meeting of MPs of all parties to decide on the future course of action.
The matter was first raised, during the Zero Hour, by Union Minister Smriti Irani who said Mr. Khan’s remarks during the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill on Thursday were a “blot” on all legislators, including men. “This is a blot on all legislators, including men. We cannot remain silent spectators... We have to speak in one voice that this is unacceptable,” she said.
Supporting Ms. Irani, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that either Mr. Khan should tender an apology or he should be suspended from the House.
Nationalist Congress Party member Supriya Sule, Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee and Biju Janata Dal member Bhratruhari Mahtab were among those who echoed similar sentiments.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said action should be taken against anyone demeaning women and raised the issue of members having used objectionable words against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the past. This, however, drew protests from the members of the treasury benches who said the issue should not be politicised.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed Mr. Khan's remarks “utterly condemnable” and urged the Speaker to take exemplary action.