The Congress issued a notice of breach of privilege against Union minister and Rajya Sabha Leader Piyush Goyal on Tuesday, a day after he attacked its senior leader and Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi over his remarks in London that “democracy is under attack” in India.
Piyush Goyal had not named Gandhi but it was clear that he was referring to him. Shaktisinh Gohil, a Congress MP, issued the breach of privilege notice.
In his notice, Congress MP Gohil said Rule 238 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States was very clear that “no allegation of a defamatory or incriminatory nature shall be made by a member against any other member or a member of the House”.
He said Piyush Goyal “raised the matter regarding some observations made by the member of the other House and that too outside the House. Rule 238 A as well as it is [a] time-honoured tradition that reference is not made in one House to the member of the other House.”
“It is pertinent to note that Piyush Goyal repeatedly spoke about a member of Lok Sabha and kept on stating facts which were not true. Goyal criticised a member of Lok Sabha without truth and was intentionally going on with derogatory remarks,” MP Shaktisinh Gohil said.
He also argued that “no Opposition member has ever raised an issue regarding critical remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on foreign soil”.
Gohil also cited some previous instances in his notice.
“In a landmark case, Mr N C Chatterjee, member of the Lok Sabha made a speech outside Parliament and when his speech issue was raised in Rajya Sabha on May 11, 1954, it was not allowed,” he said.
Gohil also quoted a ruling given by the Chair way back in 1967.
On June 19, 1967, he said the then chairman of Rajya Sabha V V Giri had said, “I would like to add that it would be a good rule to observe that members of one House should not use the freedom of speech on the floor of the House to make allegations or charges against members of the other House”.
Thirdly, he said, in March 1983, “when a member sought to make allegations in Rajya Sabha against a member of Lok Sabha, L K Advani, who was then a member of Rajya Sabha, protested against it and requested the Chair not to allow the allegations to go on record.”
Gohil said the then vice-chairman had observed that “prima facie, Mr Advani is right. Before referring to a member of the other House one has to exercise a lot of care and caution”.
Goyal on Monday said a senior Opposition leader had attacked India’s democracy in a shameless manner in a foreign country. He had claimed that the Opposition leader had insulted the Indian Army, Indian Parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker, Election Commission, judiciary and media on foreign soil.
“The entire country saw how an Opposition leader hurt the sentiments of Indians on foreign soil. He should apologise to the country and every Indian. He should apologise to the Army. He should come to the House and apologise to the Army, media and judiciary for his remarks on democracy,” Goyal had said amid protests from Congress benches.