Former Member of Parliament L. Rajagopal has escaped punishment for his pepper attack in the Lok Sabha in 2014 during the debate on the bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, as the matter referred to the committee of privileges by the then Speaker Meira Kumar lapsed with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha.
A reply by Lok Sabha secretariat to a RTI query reveals that the matter which was pending before the committee of privileges lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha on May 18, 2014.
“On 14 February, 2014, Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha under the powers conferred under Rule 227 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha had referred the matter relating to ‘contempt of the House committed by L. Rajagopal, MP for spraying pepper and also by some other members for indulging in unruly acts/behaviour on 13 February, 2014 in the House’ to the committee of privileges for examination, investigation and report,” said the Lok Sabha secretariat in reply to a RTI query by Satyanarayana Vallabhaneni, a resident of Vijayawada.
“Due to dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha on 18 May, 2014, all matters pending before the committee/ House lapsed. Consequently, this matter referred to the committee of privileges also stands lapsed,” it added. The Lok Sabha was dissolved just three months after the pepper spray incident was referred to the committee of privileges.
Satyanarayana wanted to know if an inquiry was ordered into the pepper episode and if any action was taken.
Rajagopal, who was representing Vijayawada, had used caused sensation in the Lok Sabha by spraying pepper when it was debating the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill to carve out separate Telangana state.
Rajagopal, who was suspended by the Congress earlier that month for defying the party leadership, brought a canister from which he sprayed pepper. Some MPs and journalists were affected.
The next day Speaker Meira Kumar had suspended 17 MPs from Andhra Pradesh including Rajagopal from the house for a week for their unruly behaviour.
All political parties had demanded action against Rajagopal and the Congress-led UPA Government had said it would not oppose whatever decision the Speaker takes in this regard.
Meira Kumar had termed the incident as a ‘blot on democracy and referred it to the committee of privileges, which has got punitive powers.
Rajagopal, who was opposed to division of Andhra Pradesh, had defended his action saying he sprayed pepper in self-defence.
Rajagopal who is also an industrialist later resigned from Parliament to protest the passing of the bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.