Speaker forms 7-member panel to probe porngate

One JD(S), two Cong and four BJP MLAs in committee

Speaker forms 7-member  panel to probe porngate
Undeterred by the Opposition’s protests against any kind of probe, Speaker K G Bopaiah on Thursday formed a seven- member Assembly Committee to investigate into the issue of three former ministers watching a porn clip inside the House recently.

The Speaker has included two Congress MLAs and one JD(S) MLA in the committee despite the floor leaders of both the parties refusing to recommend any names. Bopaiah had given time till Thursday evening to the Opposition to recommend names for the committee.

The Speaker set up the inquiry committee within hours after Lakshman Savadi, C C Patil and Krishna Palemar submitted their replies to the show-cause notice. All the three are learnt to have claimed they had not committed any crime.

The committee has four MLAs from the BJP, two from the Congress and one from the JD(S). BJP legislator from Gadag Srishilappa Virupakshappa Bidarur is the head of the panel. B Suresh Gowda, S R Vishwanath, Nehru Channabasappa Olekar (all BJP), Amaregouda Patil Byapura, Dr H C Mahadevappa (both Congress) and Dinakar Keshava Shetty (JD-S) are the members. 

The committee has to submit its report by March 13, 2012.

As per the notification issued by the Speaker, the committee has been asked to conduct a thorough probe whether the media coverage of the members watching porn clip had any connection with the proceedings of the Assembly, its source and whether the rule book permits the electronic media to air such incidents.

The Congress and the JD(S) have been protesting the Speaker’s decision to form an inquiry committee. They are arguing that there was no need for any probe into the issue as the three tainted BJP MLAs were caught on camera watching porn. 

The Opposition parties are also demanding that the Speaker immediately disqualify them.

When contacted, Mahadevappa, who was in Mysore, said he would stick to his party’s stand on the committee. 

“If my party directs me to not associate myself with the committee, I will not,” he said.

Ministers submit replies

Earlier in the day, the three former ministers involved in the porngate episode submitted their replies in separate sealed covers to Assembly secretary P Omprakash. Thursday was the last date to file their replies.

In their replies, the trio are learnt to have stated that they had not committed any crime.

While Savadi and Patil are understood to have stated that they had opened the clip on the mobile inadvertently, Palemar has claimed total ignorance of the presence of the clip in his mobile and that he was not even present in the House when the incident happened. Palemar is also said to have stated that he did not know even to send an MMS. Savadi has reportedly stated that he had opened the clip under the impression that it was about atrocities being committed on women in foreign countries. Patil stated he watched the clip for a few seconds and told Savadi to switch it off.

In effect, the trio has denied any wrongdoing that had tarnished the image of the Assembly. 

They have submitted that they be absolved of all the charges against them. On the police filing a memo before a local court that criminal action inside the Assembly was outside their jurisdiction and it was for the Speaker to take action, Bopaiah said the police had not approached him in this regard. 

“It is between the police and the court,” he said.

Following a complaint, the local court had directed the police to conduct an inquiry into the episode. 

However, the police have not lodged a first information report, but only filed a memo in the court.

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