SC stays LS privileges panel proceedings summoning West Bengal Chief Secretary, others for ‘injuring’ BJP MP

Sukanta Majumdar was reportedly injured as party workers clashed with police personnel when stopped from entering Sandeshkhali

February 19, 2024 12:22 pm | Updated 05:34 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Representational image of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) building

Representational image of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) building | Photo Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed further proceedings before a Lok Sabha Privileges Committee, which has summoned the West Bengal Chief Secretary and other officers on a complaint filed by BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar alleging “misconduct, brutality and life-threatening injuries to him”.

Mr. Majumdar was reportedly injured as party workers clashed with police personnel when stopped from entering Sandeshkhali, where women have been agitating over alleged atrocities committed against them by Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh and his aides.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud also issued notice to the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

The stay order spelt relief for the Chief Secretary and the other officers, who were scheduled to appear before the Privileges Committee on February 19.

In an urgent oral mentioning, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A.M. Singhvi, for the officials, questioned the very jurisdiction of the Privileges Committee to summon them.

Mr. Sibal said the BJP MP was engaged in “political activity” not associated with his work as a parliamentarian. He had violated a prohibition order against ‘unlawful assembly’ under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He had climbed onto the bonnet of a police car and was pushed by fellow party workers. It was the police which had taken him to the hospital. Mr. Sibal said the State had video evidence to back its submissions.

“Privilege is only applicable when an MP is obstructed or harmed in the course of his work or official duties as a Member of Parliament. Privilege is not available when the MP is not doing anything concerned with his duties. It certainly does not extend to the political activity of the MP outside the House ,” Mr. Sibal said.

Mr. Singhvi said if the “cloak of privilege extended to protect everything, then an MP cannot even be arrested for a crime”.

“Political activity can never be brought within the precincts of ‘breach of privilege’ powers of Parliament. How can that be? This is a clear misuse of the power of privilege,” Mr. Sibal reiterated.

The lawyers noted that the summons had extended to even the North 24 Parganas District Magistrate Sharad Kumar Dwivedi, Basirhat Superintendent Hossain Mehdi Rehman and Additional Superintendent Partha Ghosh.

Representing the Lok Sabha Secretariat, senior advocate Devashish Bharuka countered that the Lok Sabha Speaker had received a complaint from the BJP MP, and had decided to look into it

“Today is the first sitting of the Privileges Committee. It has only called the officials seeking oral evidence. They are not accused of anything. It is only a regular procedure… It does not harm anyone in any sense,” Mr. Bharuka submitted.

The court refused Mr. Bharuka’s request to not stay the Privileges Committee notice.

The court listed the case after four weeks.

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