Jethmalani's remarks create flutter in RS during Lokpal debate

Noted advocate and BJP member Ram Jethmalani today created a flutter in the Rajya Sabha when he made certain remarks against persons having money stashed away in Swiss banks.

Participating in the debate on Lokpal Bill, Jethmalani referred to an article published in an European magazine in 1991 that contained "names, photographs and bank account numbers".

His remarks were strongly objected to by Congress members led by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan, who repeatedly asked the protesting members to take their seats, said it was "not correct to bring the name of Prime Minister" and wanted removal of the reference made by Jethmalani.

After the ruling, Jethmalani spoke about the protocol that India signed with the Swiss government on August 30 last year on double taxation avoidance treaty and used a word to describe the government's intention. The Chair expunged the remark, saying it was unparliamentary.

The BJP leader's remark again drew sharp reactions from the ruling benches and Khan had a tough time restoring order. When order was finally restored, Jethmalani said the protocol signed with the Swiss government says India will not seek information about past and only future information on double tax avoidance would be sought.

Aiyar and others objected saying Jethmalani was raising an issue that was not linked with the issue under discussion. Opposition BJP and AIADMK members stood up to counter Congress members. Khan asked members to resume their places and remarked that obstruction is on both sides. "If you don't cooperate, how can Chair run the House," he asked, appealing to members to resume their places.

Jethmalani said the United Nations Convention of Corruption that India ratified earlier this year, does not apply in case of bilateral treaties. "This is great act of deceit," he remarked, triggering protests from Congress members.

BJP and AIADMK members countered the slogan shouting and Khan had a tough time restoring order. Alleging conflict of interest, Narayanasamy said Jethmalani cannot raise the issue of blackmoney as he is representing a the blackmoney case in the Supreme Court.

Khan said as per rules members have to declare their interest before speaking on the issue. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said there was no conflict of interest and what Jethmalani was speaking was continuation of interest.

Earlier, Jethmalani said German government had obtained names of Swiss bank account holders by paying bribe and had offered to share information with friendly countries. He said several countries like the US, Germany and France could get information about blackmoney in Swiss banks, but India has signed protocol which will allow information only about the future and not the past.

With Switzerland, the government of India gave up the right to ask for information about the past, he said, adding BJP would not support the bill under any condition.

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