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Privilege motion againt PM: Natwar denied permission to speak

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: August 07, 2006 15:32 IST
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Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has denied permission to Congress leader Natwar Singh to speak on his privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the leak of the Justice Pathak report in the oil-for-food scam.

"All privilege motions are under my consideration, including one by Natwar Singh, and unless I give a ruling nothing can be said. Natwar Singh cannot be allowed to speak," Shekhawat said in the Rajya Sabha after it had reconvened in the afternoon.

Later, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 11 am, Tuesday morning.

Natwar Singh also met Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury.

Yechury said Natwar told him that the letters being used as evidence against him were forged documents.

"Since Natwar Singh is a member of the Rajya Sabha, he should have been given permission to speak. We would like to know what he wants to say," Yechury said.

The National Democatic Alliance gave a privilege notice against Dr Singh on the leakage of Pathak Commission report in the Lok Sabha, saying it would not allow Parliament to function till he apologises or quits over the leak of the Justice R S Pathak report.

Bharatiya Janata Party Parliamentary Party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra told PTI after an NDA meeting that the Opposition alliance believed the prime minister himself was responsible for the leak to the media of the Pathak report, which indicted former external affairs minister Natwar Singh and his son Jagat, but exonerated the Congress party in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam.

"The leakage of the report is a gross breach of privilege of the House (Lok Sabha). We are therefore giving notice under rule 222 for breach of privilege of this House by the prime minister, who received the only copy of the report from Justice Pathak.

"We also request you to give us permission to raise the issue of breach of privilege in the House," an NDA notice, submitted with the office of the Lok Sabha speaker and signed individually by members of the Opposition alliance, said.

Malhotra said a similar notice has been filed with the office of the Rajya Sabha chairman.

"We will not let Parliament function until the prime minister apologises for the leak. He should either apologise or quit his post," the BJP leader said.

The NDA meeting held at Leader of Opposition Lal Kishenchand Advani's chamber in Parliament was attended among others by alliance convenor George Fernandes, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh, Malhotra, S S Ahluwalia, the Biju Janata Dal's B K Tripathy and Shiromani Akali Dal's Sukhdev Singh Libra.

Meanwhile, members of Samajwadi Party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Telugu Desam Party on Monday moved a breach of privilege motion against Dr Singh over leakage of Justice Pathak Commission report.

The notice, signed by Amar Singh (SP), P G Narayanan (AIADMK) and R Chandrasekar (TDP), said, "The leakage of the report is a gross contempt of this House (Rajya Sabha)."

"Rajya Sabha is in session. Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the government is duty bound to place the report on the table of the House before disclosing it to the media," the notice sent to the Rajya Sabha chairman said.

The three asked for an inquiry into the leakage by a committee of Rajya Sabha saying, "Nothing less will serve the ends of justice."

Seeking permission to raise the issue in the House on Monday, the notice said, the "report of the authority (consisted under Justice Pathak) was submitted to prime minister on August 3, 2006. As soon as the report was submitted to the prime minister, it was all over the electronic media."

"Every channel came out with the main findings of the report. All the newspapers carried the main findings of the report in their editions on August 4, 2006," the notice said.

With PTI Inputs

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi