A few minutes before the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the tussle between Delhi Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor in the capital on Wednesday, the Legislative Assembly was adjourned for 15 minutes after members objected to the absence of senior bureaucrats in the Assembly due to the review meetings and inspections held by Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.
Congress legislator M.N.R. Balan first raised the issue on the absence of officials from the House when crucial subjects were discussed in the Assembly. He said even Ministers were not present when the debate on demands for grants was on.
Speaker V. Vaithilingam gave a direction to Ministers and officials to be present in the House, especially when members are speaking on budgetary demands and other crucial issues.
After a few minutes, the Speaker received inputs from his staff that none of the senior bureaucrats were present in the House. He immediately adjourned the proceedings at 10. 10 a.m.
The proceedings were resumed at 10. 25 a.m. after a few bureaucrats rushed back to the House on hearing the news about the adjournment.
When the House was reconvened, AIADMK legislator A. Anbalgan said the Lt. Governor had scheduled official meetings at Raj Nivas till July 25 so as to deliberately undermine the proceedings in the Assembly. He also handed over to the Speaker, a copy of the programme prepared by Raj Nivas for the period.
Government whip R. K. R Anantharaman, DMK legislator R. Siva and AIADMK legislator Vayyapuri Manikantan wanted the Speaker to take a serious note of the issue.
After Minister for Public Works A. Nammassivayam prodded the AINRC to make their stand on the matter clear, party member N.S.J Jayabal said the Principal Opposition was behind the government on the issue.
Mr. Vaithilingam said in a democracy the power rests with the Legislative Assembly and the elected government. The absence of senior officials from the House would be considered a privilege issue, he said. “It is the elected government that is answerable to the people and not the constitutional head (Lt. Governor).
Speaking on the issue, Chief Minister said the presence of officials was mandatory in the House as the Ministers rely on them for obtaining particulars on questions raised by the legislators in the House.
“The House is there for members to raise questions and speak on subjects of public interest. The Ministers can give reply only when officials are present,” he said.
The Lt Governor cannot arbitrarily convene meetings when the proceedings were on.
The Chief Minister said he would write to the Lt. Governor requesting her to cancel all official meetings at the Raj Nivas till the Assembly session gets over.
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