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14 MLAs claimed breach of privilege in past 3 years: RTI

By Sarbmeet Singh | Hindustan Times, Muktsar
PUBLISHED ON DEC 25, 2019 10:46 PM IST

Muktsar The discontent of the state’s MLAs at not being paid due importance in government offices is reflected in the number approaching the speaker to claim breach of privilege. Sample this: Starting 2017, the number of MLAs who have complained to the speaker, for the three years since then, for breach of privilege is 14. For the three years starting 2014 (the SAD-BJP regime was in power) to 2016, this number was six.

The information has been procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In most cases, the officer accused of breach of privilege apologises and the matter is put to rest. In 2019-20 so far, three MLAs have claimed breach of privilege; seven (2018-19) and four in (2017-18). There was no complaint in 2016-17. For 2014-15 and 2015-16, the figures were four and two, respectively.

12-member privilege committee addresses issue

A 12-member privilege committee that Faridkot MLA Kushaldeep Singh Kikki Dhillon heads, addresses the issue if the speaker refers the matter to it. The committee members change. Some members on it now are Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Pargat Singh, Pawan Kumar Tinu and others.

Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) chief and Atam Nagar MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains had approached the speaker after a spat with Pathankot deputy commissioner. Similarly, Congress Baghapurana MLA Darshan Singh Brar had also approached the privilege committee.

“Elected representatives face problems in routine work. I had complained to the committee against a Moga official, who was later transferred,” said Brar, adding, “MLAs are not being paid due respect at government offices.”

Speaking to HT over phone, Punjab speaker Rana KP Singh said, “When a complaint is received, the official concerned is summoned. If we feel his reply is dissatisfactory, the matter is referred to the privilege committee.”

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Kotkapura MLA, Kultar Sandhwan, who had complained against the then ADC in March last year, said, “Bureaucrats should understand that MLAs are public representatives and they are bound to follow the directions of government for betterment of people.”

Opposition leader Harpal Cheema said, “The privilege committee of the vidhan sabha helps maintain protocol. However, reports of vidhan sabha committees are not being implemented in an effective manner.”

‘Privilege not breached in every case’

Former deputy speaker Bir Davinder Singh said, “Due to decline in moral values in the political system, politicians have lost respect and bureaucracy was no exception. I believe that the privileges of an MLA are breached only if their functionality and performance as an MLA is affected by the behaviour of officers. Everybody has a dignity, which should be respected.”

“If the work is right, it is the moral duty of officials to do it. A self-correction system is needed for both the legislatures and officials for smooth functioning,” said a senior politician not wanting to be named.

Punjab IAS Officers Association president, Vini Mahajan, refused to comment on the issue.

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