RS panel condemns Prachi's terrorists in Parl comment

Sadhvi Prachi

Hindutva preacher Sadhvi Prachi escaped action for her "terrorists in Parliament" remarks with the Rajya Sabha Privileges Committee on Tuesday submitting a report saying that it "strongly condemns" her statement but said pursuing it as 'breach of privilege' will not serve any purpose.

In its report submitted in the Upper House, the Parliamentary panel said persons who matter in public life should "exercise circumspection in ventilating their anger or grievance" towards the highest democratic institution and "such irresponsible remarks" lead to erosion of values attached to these institutions.

Prachi had in 2015 stoked a controversy when she said one or two terrorists were in Parliament in reference to lawmakers who found fault with the way 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged.

"The statement of Sadhvi Prachi...was unfair had contemptuous undertone and was also a personal attack on individual MPs, even though she did not name any member, on account of their conduct in Parliament," the report said.

At least three sets of privilege notices were submitted by MPs including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and former members Sitaram Yechury, K C Tyagi and Naresh Agarwal among others.

In her response, Prachi had defended her remarks saying she had never defamed or even attempted to defame Parliament and that her statement was misconstrued and few words had been taken in isolation and out of context.

The report said that she contended that she believed that if she was guilty of criticising the MPs for their "irresponsible act", then these lawmakers were "also guilty of contempt and sedition".

Though she tendered an apology, the panel said, it could not be considered as unconditional as she repeatedly defended it.

"This opinion of the Committee is also based on the fact that Sadhvi Prachi, while making arguments in favour of her impugned statement, categorically charged MP with sedition if they, according to her, were criticising the hanging of a convict whose mercy petition was also dismissed by the President, the executive head of the country," the panel said.

While underscoring Prachi's arguments to the effect that like MPs, as a citizen of India, she too had the right to freedom of speech and expression, it said, "nobody should deny any citizen the right of fair comment, but if the comments contain personal attack on MP on account of their conduct in Parliament, or if the language of the comments is contemptuous and demeaning, the comments cannot be deemed to fall within the bounds of fair comment or justifiable criticism.

"The Committee feels that pursuing this matter of unwarranted remarks uttered by Sadhvi Prachi, as a breach of privilege, would serve no further useful purpose... The Committee, therefore, while strongly condemning the remarks of Sadhvi Prachi, feels it is better to consult its own dignity and recommends that the matter may be allowed to rest," it said. 

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