Published On: Wed, Nov 14th, 2018

HC seeks Centre, Delhi govt replies as Chief Secy challenges fresh breach of privilege proceedings

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Centre, the AAP government and the Delhi Assembly Speaker’s office on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash’s plea challenging the fresh breach of privilege proceedings initiated against him on complaints by two House committees.

Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash

Justice Vibhu Bakhru, while issuing notice in the matter, declined to pass any interim orders after Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra said nothing was presently happening against the bureaucrat and that his plea was “premature”.

Mehra said the instant petition be heard on November 27 with an earlier plea of the bureaucrat challenging another breach of privilege proceeding going on against him.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra and advocate Vivek Chib, appearing for Prakash, on the other hand urged the court to pass interim orders staying the two fresh proceedings against him and to direct that his presence be not insisted upon by the Privileges Committee.

The judge, however, did not issue any interim directions and listed the matter for hearing on November 27, saying that nothing has happened till now against the bureaucrat and if anything happens he can approach the court.

Prakash, in his plea filed through advocates Asif Ahmed and Ruchira Goel, has sought quashing of the two new breach of privilege proceedings initiated against him on the complaints by the Question and Reference Committee (QRC) and Protocol Committee of the Assembly.

During the brief arguments, Luthra contended that some members of the two committees, which lodged the complaints against him, were also part of the Privileges Committee which is a “violation of principles of natural justice”.

The senior lawyer also argued that MLAs who were chargesheeted in connection with assault of the chief secretary were also part of the two committees.

He said that breach of privilege proceedings were initiated after filing of the charge sheet and alleged that they were biased against the bureaucrat and were trying to “harass and intimidate” him.

Opposing the allegations, Mehra submitted in court a list of the members of the committees and said that none of the chargesheeted MLAs were part of the House panels.

He also said that since the two proceedings were initiated on October 1 and October 11 with no summons being issued till now, the petition was “completely premature”.

The chief secretary, in his plea, has also challenged the complaints made against him by the QRC and Protocol Committee on September 7 and September 14, repectively.

He has contended that the breach of privilege proceedings initiated against him based on the two complaints were “violative of the Constitution of India as well as the Rules of the House and therefore, illegal and unconstitutional”.

The petition also seeks quashing of the Speaker’s decision to refer the two complaints to the Privileges Committee, saying it too was in violation of the Constitution and Rules of the House.

Apart from his latest petition, the chief secretary had in the past challenged breach of privilege proceedings initiated against him in March this year by the Assembly panels for not appearing before them.

The earlier petition is at the final arguments stage and is scheduled to be heard next on November 27.

During the hearing on his earlier plea, Prakash had claimed that the entire process of summoning him before a privileges committee for questioning over certain issues was “biased” and “premeditated”.

Prakash had filed the earlier plea in March this year after he was served a notice by the Privileges Committee, on a complaint by QRC, for skipping a meeting on February 20.

The meeting, in which he was asked to appear, was scheduled a day after he was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs — Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal.

PTI

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