The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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House siege for Opp. shield

Ranchi, Aug. 17: While the first day of the Assembly’s monsoon session today remained uneventful, the Opposition planned to stall the House tomorrow to highlight “state repression” against legislators not belonging to the ruling coalition.

“This is being done in ‘self-defence’ and will occur on the floor of the House as well as outside,” said leader of Opposition in the House, Sudhir Mahto. “How can we take up public issues and when we ourselves are not safe,” he wondered.

False cases, he alleged, had been lodged against several Opposition members. Unless the government, which has “framed” legislators, takes corrective steps, he declared, the House would not be allowed to function. Legislators against whom police have recently lodged cases include Manoj Yadav, Videsh Singh (RJD), Sukhram Oraon, Dulal Bhuiyan (JMM) and Bhanu Pratap Shahi (Forward Bloc).

When his attention was drawn to the fact that Shahi was booked for beating up an officer, Mahto replied, “It was not a big deal. Why should the government make a mountain of a molehill' It was a minor scuffle and in any case, should officers be allowed to fleece the public'” Mahto said the government was acting with a vengeance against Shahi and also Videsh Singh, after having failed to lure the duo to support the NDA.

Dulal Bhuiyan, he said, was booked after he protested against the demolition drive in Jamshedpur. Likewise, old cases against Sukhram Oraon were re-opened following his protests against rape of a minor tribal girl, Mahto asserted.

The Opposition, however, will also raise the issue of police firing on Kanke Road, he hastened to add.

Independent MLA Stephen Marandi said the Opposition will also demand a special debate on irregularities in granting lease to iron ore mines.

Peace moves

The business advisory committee decided to consult the advocate-general before initiating a contentious debate on the alleged interference by the judiciary in legislative work. The move is seen as a reconciliatory step to avert a confrontation, with the advocate-general expected to advise against holding a debate, which would be unprecedented in the annals of legislatures, were it to be held.

Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari said members cutting across party lines were unanimous in their view that the “unhealthy precedence” of judicial encroachment into the jurisdiction of the House should not go unchallenged. But the members, he added, were equally keen that they do nothing to defame the judiciary.

“Therefore, we decided to consult the advocate-general and seek his opinion on the issue tomorrow,” he said.

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