PM need not reply to questions, says Ansari

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar refused to entertain Opposition members’ pleas since in the Lower House there was  no provision to seek clarifications after a statement is made.
But in the Rajya Sabha the convention is to seek clarifications and elicit answers from the Prime Minister or ministers after they make statements. On Friday, it was different.

After Singh’s statement, Opposition leaders Arun Jaitely and Sitaram Yechury got ready to pin him down but did not expect Chairman Hamid Ansari to read them House rules.

Ansari quoted a April 1987 ruling under Rule 173, by then Chairman R Venkataraman, that a member is entitled to seek clarifications if the Prime Minister makes a suo motu statement (and not after demand by the members). 

Ansari also quoted Rule 251 which says: “A statement may be made by a minister on a matter of public importance with the Chairman’s consent but no question shall be asked at the time the statement is made”.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said Singh’s statement was made after a demand was raised by the Opposition and it was not suo motu. Hence, he added, Singh need not respond to clarifications.

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