| Santosh Kumar Suman protests against the diesel price hike at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday.
Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha |
New Delhi, Sept. 22: A lawyer from Bihar created a ruckus at Vigyan Bhavan here today as he took off his shirt and shouted slogans against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was about to address a conference on economic growth.
Taken aback, officials of the Special Protection Group (SPG) immediately swung into action and whisked away the protester out of the plenary hall where the conference was underway.
After initial questioning, Santosh Kumar Suman, 33, who stays in east Delhi’s Shakarpur area, was handed over to police for further interrogation.
“Santosh is originally from Begusarai district in Bihar and is allegedly associated with the RJD. He is a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court and gained entry inside Vigyan Bhavan using a valid invitation card,” an official said.
The incident took place when Singh walked to the dais to deliver his address at the Conference on Economic Growth in Asia and Changes of Corporate Environment. Legal luminaries from across Asia, besides Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia and Union law minister Salman Khurshid, attended the conference.
Santosh, who is also a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association, climbed on a desk, took off his shirt and shouted: “Prime Minister, go back. Roll back diesel prices.”
The Prime Minister waited for a while at the rostrum before addressing the gathering, as security officials whisked away the protester. He reportedly asked the SPG officials not to harass Santosh.
“He (Santosh) claimed to be a member of the legal cell of the RJD’s Delhi unit. He also showed us an identity card of the party. We are checking the veracity of his claims,” the official said.
Senior RJD officials, however, disowned Santosh, saying the legal cell of Delhi unit was disbanded long ago. He is being interrogated at Tughlak Road police station.
While addressing the conference organised by the Indian Law Institute, the PM said the UPA government was bracing to meet international standards in corporate laws and would soon bring before Parliament the new companies bill.
He added that India must strive to build a climate that invites investment. “We must build a climate that attracts investment and encourages and rewards innovation, establish fair and effective regulatory institutions and also legal processes. Above all, we have the responsibility to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in processes of governance,” Singh said.
A preliminary probe revealed that Santosh had filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court last year seeking prosecution of the Prime Minister in the cash-for-votes scam that rocked Parliament during a trust vote in 2008. But before dismissing his plea in August last year, the court had slapped a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on him.
“The present petition appears to have been filed with mala fide intention with a view to gain cheap publicity. Thus, in my view, the application is nothing but a gross abuse of the process of law,” Justice Ajit Bharihoke had said while rejecting Santosh’s plea.
The court had also directed him to deposit the money with the registrar general of the high court to be later forwarded to the Prime Minister’s relief fund.