The Hindu (April 27, 2007)


Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Thursday “requested” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Babubhai K. Katara, now in police custody in a human trafficking case; not to attend the House till party leaders decide on the further course of action.


On behalf of the Lok Sabha, Mr. Chatterjee condemned Mr. Katara’s behaviour. The Speaker made this observation as soon as the House convened in the morning for the post-recess Budget session.

Referring to his meeting with the leaders of various parties on Wednesday, the Speaker said it was unanimously agreed that “the House should not only express its concern but should also condemn the commission of the alleged offence by the member”.

He added: “The House is distressed and expresses its firm determination to take all necessary action so that the dignity of the House is not tarnished.” Considering the gravity of the situation, he said a leaders’ meeting has been called to decide how such matters should be dealt with in the future so that “the prestige of this great institution is upheld.”

It is learnt that the Speaker is keen to hold the meeting of party leaders at the earliest.

Outside the House, BJP leader V.K. Malhotra made it clear that his party had concurred with the views of the House on this matter, but his party would like to see Parliament adopt a standard that would apply equally to all.

According to him the MPs involved in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha bribery case should also have been disqualified despite their later acquittal by the courts. “They may have been acquitted, but action should have been taken against them [by Parliament],” Mr. Malhotra said. Congress party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi dwelt on yet another grievous wrongdoing by the BJP, this time involving two BJP Governments, one in Gujarat, the other in Rajasthan, in an alleged fake encounter. He said the “shocking facts” were that a man and wife, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Kauser, were forcibly taken off a bus in which they were travelling, taken to a farmhouse and then murdered. The wife’s body has not been found to this day. He said the encounters were a “fig leaf” for glorifying Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, for the police declared that men killed in the encounter had plans to assassinate Mr. Modi.


Only under the monitoring and guidance of the Supreme Court have these facts come out, and that too not without attempts being made to hamper the obstruct the investigations. Mr. Singhvi said in the public view the Gujarat Home Minister was guilty of directing the police to kill a man, and he should resign forthwith. “We cannot expect Chief Minister Narendra Modi to resign for he is too thick-skinned,” he added.

The Gujarat encounter case, and this was not likely to be an isolated one, should become a “test case” and with fingers pointed at the police of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the only way to get a fair inquiry was to hand the case to the CBI, Mr. Singhvi said.

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