As soon as the prime minister made his statement in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Arun Jaitley raised his hand, wanting to seek clarifications, but was immediately disallowed by Chairman Hamid Ansari.
Ansari invoked a 24-year-old ruling to disallow clarifications on the prime minister’s statement in the House. “I am afraid, Rule 251 does not allow clarifications on this. Please read the rules. There are earlier rulings of the House on this...,” he said.
Backed by his party members, an incensed Jaitley stood up and pointed out that the Upper House has a convention that whenever a statement is made by a minister or the prime minister, clarifications are sought. “It has been without any exception and I do not know any reason why the convention is being broken today,” he said, underlining that it was an extraordinary situation.
Supported by the Left parties, Jaitley said the Opposition “cannot be gagged”.
“The prime minister is accountable to Parliament...He cannot shield himself behind a new practice.” he added.
Coming in support, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said: “This rule has been there. It has never been invoked so far...I would like to know why this is being invoked after 24 years”.
He also asked “why did you not follow it last week (when the Prime Minister made a statement in the House on quashing of CVC appointment).”
However, Ansari did not agree to the appeals and said the ruling of April 24, 1987 was “unambiguously clear” and “that is the practice”. He, later, adjourned the House for 20 minutes till 3 pm as the Opposition members continued protesting,
When the House reassembled and Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan came in the Chair, Jaitley again stood up and raised the issue, saying that “the Opposition cannot be gagged. The ruling party would like to gag the Opposition. It is entitled to say what it wants to say.”
Amidst protest from the Opposition, the deputy chairman asked the ministers to table the papers and adjourned the House for Tuesday.
Earlier in Lok Sabha too, the Opposition tried to seek clarification on prime minister’s statement but were disallowed on the grounds that there was such a rule.
As the uproar followed, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till 3:30 pm. As the uproar continued in the Lower House after it reassembled, the Chair adjourned it for Tuesday.