LS panel on Mann set to miss deadline again, next meet on August 23

  • Jatin Gandhi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2016 10:59 IST
Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann leaves the Parliament House after appearing before the Ethics Committee. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

A committee formed to probe Lok Sabha member Bhagwant Mann’s filming of the restricted-access route to Parliament is yet to finish its task even as the monsoon session ended on Friday.

Sources in the nine-member panel say a majority wants the investigation to end soon, but the three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members, including chairman Kirit Somaiya, are delaying it.

On July 21, the Aam Aadmi Party MP from Punjab shot a video of his journey from his accommodation in the capital up till the Parliament house. The clip, which showed him pass by various check-points, was uploaded on Facebook, triggering criticism for endangering security.

A probe followed, keeping the 42-year-old lawmaker from Sangrur out for the rest of the session that began on July 18.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for August 23. This is because the BJP lawmakers have to be in their constituencies till then, even though the panel’s extended term ends on August 17.

“We have time till the 17th,” Somaiya told HT over the phone from Mumbai. “I will speak with the members on the 16th when I return to Delhi and then request the Speaker for an extension.”

The other BJP lawmakers in the committee are Satyapal Singh and Meenakshi Lekhi.

The party has instructed its lawmakers to fan out into their constituencies for a week-long Tiranga yatra from August 15. “Our report cannot be completed because we have work left,” said Somaiya.

KC Venugopal, the lone Congress member on the committee, said the probe on Mann should end immediately and the security recommendations can follow later. “The investigation should have ended by August 3 (the original deadline),” he said.

The committee was asked by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to suggest action against Mann and recommend security measures to avoid repeat of such incidents. The Speaker formed the panel on July 22 and advised Mann to not attend proceedings, pending probe.

The committee is divided on the action to be recommended against the lawmaker, sources from within it revealed. Some members are in favour of letting Mann off with a warning and treating his forced absence from Parliament as a suspension term. Somaiya and his party colleagues want harsh punishment.

The BJP’s stance has prompted Mann to allege bias against him. “Whatever they want to do, they should finish fast,” he said. “They have deliberately kept me away from the House. No Punjab issue was raised in the session.”

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