Suspended Congress leader Natwar Singh's plan to corner the government on the leakage of Pathak Authority report through a breach of privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fell flat in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with the chairman rejecting it.
However, he felt the leakage of the contents of the report that went into the Iraqi oil contracts scam was a "serious matter" that should be investigated.
"Past precedents in similar cases also lead me to reach the decision that this matter does not constitute any breach of privilege of the House," Bhairon Singh Shekawat ruled in the House as it met post-lunch after two adjournments.
"The said notice is not admissible," the chairman said in his much-awaited ruling. Natwar Singh was not present when it was delivered.
While rejecting the admissibility of the motion, Shekawat termed as "sad and unfortunate" that the contents of the Justice R S Pathak Authority report came to be "known to the media" on the very day it was submitted.
Calling the leak a "serious matter", the chairman said, "It would have been appropriate and desirable that when Parliament was in session, no part of the report should become public before the report was presented to Parliament."
Shekawat driected that the leakage of the report needs to be looked into and investigated.
The chairman said he had received Natwar's notice dated August 4 in which he had stated that within a few minutes of the submission of the report to the prime minister, the main findings of the report were made available to the media.
Natwar had also complained that the report had not been shown to him nor a copy of it was laid on the table of the House.
Citing Rule 188 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha, Natwar had sought permission that he be allowed to raise the matter through breach of privilege of the House.
"This matter, though very unfortunate and deplorable," the chairman ruled, "does not involve the question of any breach of privilege of the House."