Speaker takes flak for setting up probe panel

Speaker K G Bopaiah again came under severe attack from the Opposition on Wednesday for his decision to set up a House Committee to probe the issue of three former ministers watching porn clippings in the House on Tuesday.

The Opposition parties, which demanded the immediate disqualification of the tainted trio — Lakshman Savadi, C C Patil and Krishna Palemar — charged Bopaiah with trying to protect the BJP members by ordering a probe.

“You (the Speaker) disqualified 16 MLAs for withdrawing support to the government in 2010 within no time. But now, you do not want to disqualify those who indulged in the act of shame in the House,” Opposition leader Siddaramaiah charged.

Besides disqualification, the Opposition parties were insisting that the Speaker lodge a criminal complaint with the police against the three members.

However, former bureaucrats of the State Legislature secretariat said the Speaker was correct in setting up a House Committee on the issue. The Speaker cannot take serious actions like disqualifying a member without any written document. Otherwise, his decision does not stand legal scrutiny. It is a question of natural justice. The Supreme Court struck down his decision to disqualify 16 MLAs in 2010 because the principle of natural justice was not followed, the officials, who refused to be quoted, pointed out.

The committee set up by the Speaker comprises representatives of all three political parties, and hence, its report will be by and large fair. Moreover, the committee has been given just about a month’s time to complete the probe.

Moreover, the special committee has been vested with complete powers to conduct the probe. If the Speaker had handed over the probe to the police, the investigation would have taken a long time to complete. Besides, the police come under the control of the Home Minister and this would have given a scope for the ruling party to influence the probe.

Senior police officers, however, said the tainted ministers could have been charged under Section 292 of IPC had the Speaker lodged a complaint. They could have faced two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine for watching pornography in public sphere.

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