K’taka: Breach of privilege notice against MLA referred to panel

Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri on Tuesday referred to the breach of privilege notice against suspended Congress MLA B.K. Sangamesh for his ‘shirtless protest’ in the Assembly, to the privileges committee, despite protest by the opposition Congress members.

On March 4, Sangamesh was suspended from the Assembly till March 12 for removing his shirt inside the Assembly, in protest against the “highhandedness” of ruling BJP leaders in Shivamogga district, which is the home district of Chief Minister, B. S. Yediyurappa and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister, K.S. Eshwarappa.

This incident took place on a day when the speaker had decided to hold a two-day special discussion on ‘One Nation, One Election (ONOE)’.

The privilege motion was moved by senior BJP MLA Araga Jnanendra, who represents Teerthahalli constituency of Shivamogga district.

While allowing preliminary submission by Jnanendra for detailed discussion on the matter. Speaker Kageri then sought to know whether at least 10 members in the House were in support of Jnanendra’s notice, following which all the BJP MLAs stood in support.

Taking strong objections, Siddaramaiah said Sangamesh has not disrespected the Speaker and if he has spoken anything outside there was no authentication for it.

The moment Jananedra moved his motion, Congress party members trooped into well in front of the Speaker in protest demanding that no person should be punished twice for the same offence.

During his preliminary submission regarding his notice on breach of privilege, Jnanendra said, the conduct of Sangamesh on March 4 during Congress protest, was disgraceful to the Chair, which has utmost sanctity, and amounts to breach of privilege of the House.

As he referred to the incident about Sangamesh removing his shirt in the assembly, Congress members objected to it and said he did that out of anger about false cases booked against him and his family members. To this some BJP members retorted by demanding that he should be suspended permanently.

Speaking at this juncture, Leader of the opposition, Siddaramaiah said that the Speaker has already punished him by ruling one-week suspension against the same member for the same act, thus, this will set wrong precedence.

“A same person cannot be punished twice. That is not justice. The Speaker should not get carried away with this motion and the speaker must act unbiased in this case,” he argued.

Angry over this, Speaker Kageri came down heavily and asserted that there was no way one can justify Sangamesh’s protest. “Even you (Siddaramaiah) should not support such acts. We have to uphold parliamentary values and fulfill the aspirations of people. keep your irresponsible politics outside the House,” he retorted.

Law and parliamentary affairs minister Basavaraj Bommai argued that the entire Assembly’s privilege has been breached as Sangamesh’s conduct on that day was indecent, he has spoken against the Speaker and has caused disrespect to the Chair.

“The privilege notice and procedure being followed is completely in order. The leader of the opposition defending his MLAs conduct of removing shirts is really sad. If the case against him (Sangamesh) is wrong, let him go to court and fight his battle there,” he argued.