New Delhi, Aug 25 (PTI) Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday asked chairmen of all parliamentary committees to ensure rules are strictly adhered while holding meetings of the panels.
His remarks came days after members of a panel on IT objected to its head Shashi Tharoor's style of functioning and called for his removal.
Underlining that parliamentary committees function as a 'mini Parliament', Birla in a letter to the chairmen of all these panels said, 'They serve as a vital link between the government and Parliament on one hand and between the Parliament and the people on the other.
'Thus, it is imperative that the parliamentary committees and government work in harmony to achieve the goal of the welfare of the people more effectively.' Talking about Lok Sabha rules for the conduct of the committee meetings, the Speaker specifically mentioned Direction 55 and Rule 270 in his letter.
While Direction 55 talks about secrecy of the meeting, Rule 270 lays emphasis on relevance of the person or production of document sought by the panel and states if question arises, it shall be referred to the Speaker whose decision shall be final.
Rule 270 also provides that the government may decline to produce a document on the ground that its disclosure would be prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State.
Referring to these two instructions for holding the parliamentary standing committee meetings, Birla said, 'I am of the view that all the above issues may be given due consideration in the sittings of the parliamentary committees in future, I am sure that you will continue to work towards strengthening the Parliament of India and Indian democracy through your endeavours and thereby enhance the glory and prestige of our Parliament.' He also pointed out that as per convention, the committees do not take those subjects for examination where the issue is pending in the courts.
The letter written by Birla assumes significance especially in context of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Tharoor meeting scheduled for September 1 and 2.
BJP MP and member of the panel Nishikant Dubey had recently demanded the removal of Tharoor as head claiming he was using the platform for a political agenda.
Tharoor has been under attack after he spoke of summoning Facebook India executives following a Wall Street Journal report that claimed that the social media giant refused to apply hate-speech rules to certain ruling party politicians.
Dubey had also written a letter to Birla requesting him to remove Tharoor from the post and appoint any other member as chairman of the committee.
Party colleague Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who is also a member of the panel, had accused the Congress leader of 'undermining' the panel's work.
The panel has called officials from Home Ministry, Telecom Ministry, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and other states on September 1 on the issue of suspension of internet services.
Similarly on September 2, it has called Facebook over prevention of misuse of social media.
Agenda of both these meetings was also the bone of contention between BJP MPs and members from opposition parties in the parliamentary panel.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey was vehemently opposing suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir saying that it is sub judice. PTI JTR ZMN