The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Speaker calls all-party meet on MP notice

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has convened an all-party meeting on January 20 to discuss Delhi High Court’s notice to Parliament and the Centre asking them to explain the dismissal of the money-for-posers XI.

Eight of the MPs ' caught on camera accepting money for asking questions ' had moved court, but it refused to grant them interim relief and posted the matter for hearing on February 16.

“Since the court has given notice, an all-party meeting has been called on January 20 to discuss the situation,” Chatterjee told PTI in Calcutta.

Reiterating that courts have no jurisdiction in the matter, he said the meeting was meant to elicit the views of leaders across the political spectrum. The Speaker is also believed to have consulted science and technology minister Kapil Sibal and Rajya Sabha MP Fali S. Nariman ' both lawyers.

Sources said Chatterjee was keen to ensure that the “uncompromising and unequivocal” message sent out by Parliament by unanimously sacking the 11 MPs does not get “diluted” through protracted legal proceedings.

“When the sting operation was telecast, Parliament had acted swiftly'. The message that went down was Parliament does not and will not tolerate corruption,” a source said. “The basic idea is to avoid a confrontation' between the legislature and judiciary.”

The sources said the Lok Sabha secretariat may not respond to the high court notice as it contends that the judiciary has “no locus standi” in matters concerning the rights and privileges of Parliament.

This was the position the Speaker had adopted when the controversy over who should be invited first to form the government in Jharkhand had erupted in February 2004 after the election threw up a hung House.

The BJP today hinted it would stick to the stand it took during the Jharkhand debate. “At that time, we opposed his (Chatterjee’s) stand. This time, too, we may broadly do the same,” said V.K. Malhotra, the party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi refused to comment, saying the issue was sub judice.

Endorsing the Speaker’s position, CPM MP Nilotpal Basu said: “We are given to understand that while disciplining brother judges, the judges will take care. Similarly, it is for the legislators to decide how they will take care of the unbecoming behaviour of members of legislatures.”

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