THE VIDHAN Sabha on Wednesday ordered that CNN IBN chief editor Rajdeep Sardesai be brought in police custody before the House on October 27 for breach of privilege. The House also directed that the original CD of “Neta Bikta Hai” be obtained. The CNN-IBN and Channel-7 had telecast it on February 15, 2006.
A resolution in this regard was adopted unanimously after the House debated the interim report of the ‘sting operation’ inquiry committee that held Sardesai responsible for causing obstruction in the functioning of the committee and breach of privilege. CM Mulayam Singh was present.
As Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Azam Khan expressed apprehension that seven channels had sent joint teams to carry out sting operations in offices of political parties, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey announced that a committee would be constituted to evolve ways and frame rules to check such operations.
Cutting across party lines, the members said the channel should have supplied the CD of the sting operation carried out on the then Minister of State for Backward Classes Welfare Mehboob Ali of the Samajwadi Party, BJP member Somaru Ram Saroj and BSP member Anil Kumar Maurya.
Mehboob Ali faced charges of agreeing to accept money to carry drugs in his official car. Maurya faced charges of accepting money to grant protection against an alleged criminal. Somaru Ram faced charges of accepting money to get government funds sanctioned for an NGO.
The Vidhan Sabha had constituted the inquiry committee on February 17, 2006 to probe the serious charges of ‘corruption’ leveled against the three MLAs.
A sharp division was witnessed within the Bharatiya Janata Party, even as the House unanimously accepted recommendations of the inquiry committee that demanded that action be taken against Rajdeep Sardesai and directives be issued to make the unedited CD of the sting operation available to the committee for viewing. After the House passed the resolution, Leader of Opposition Lalji Tandon reached there and demanded that the House should reconsider the issue of summoning Rajdeep Sardesai to the House. The Speaker, however, turned down the demand, saying that the issue was already over in the House.
Earlier, committee chairman PK Rai of the Samajwadi Party said the committee submitted its interim report after holding 18 sittings. Sardesai did not turn up at the meetings of the committee despite several reminders, he said.
BJP member Narendra Kumar Singh Gaur called the interim report of the committee an eyewash and said the committee had found all the three MLAs prima facie guilty of charges made against them.
Gaur said the committee had agreed on three points that included a decision to disqualify the three MLAs, an inquiry against at least two of the three MLAs (who faced serious charges) and action against Rajdeep Sardesai. Gaur said he tendered his resignation from the committee when it decided to review its decision. Gaur demanded that a CBI inquiry be ordered against two of the three MLAs facing serious corruption charges.
BJP member Lakshmi Kant Bajpai, however, said the CNN-IBN did not cooperate in the inquiry.
BSP member Lalji Verma said the charges against the three MLAs were yet to be proved. Hence, any reference of corruption with regard to three MLAs should be expunged from the proceedings of the House.