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Tharoor writes to Birla; raises breach of privilege of Cong MP Karti

Shashi Tharoor has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla over the "seizing" of Congress MP Karti Chidambaram's "highly confidential" notes related to the panel during a CBI raid

New Delhi: Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, accused of facilitating visas for Chinese nationals by flouting rules, gestures as he leaves the CBI headquarters, in New Delhi, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (PTI Photo

Karti Chidambaram

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Chairman of the parliamentary committee on information technology Shashi Tharoor has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla over the "seizing" of Congress MP Karti Chidambaram's "highly confidential" notes related to the panel during a CBI raid, and said this constitutes a "breach" of the committee as well as the member's privilege.
Writing to Birla in his capacity as chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology, Tharoor raised the issue of a "serious breach of privilege" that committee member, Karti Chidambaram, was subjected to earlier this month.
Tharoor said it is distressing to note the manner in which conventions were "blatantly disregarded" during a recent investigation by the CBI, which involved a raid at Chidambaram's residence here.
"During these raids, which have also raised serious questions concerning the brazen appropriation of investigative agencies by the executive and their subsequent misuse to target political opponents of the current ruling dispensation, I have been informed by the concerned committee member that several key papers relating to the committee's deliberations were seized, including highly confidential notes maintained by the member for the purposes of questioning witnesses, examination of evidence and so on, as well as documents that were submitted for the perusal of members of the committee only," Tharoor said in the letter dated May 29.
He pointed out that all deliberations and proceedings of the committee are, according to the rules of procedure, to be treated as confidential till such time as it is presented before the House.
Citing the rule which states that "no part of the evidence, oral or written, report or proceedings of the committee which has not been laid on the table shall be open to inspection by any one except under the authority of the Speaker", Tharoor said Birla would agree, the maintenance of such rules of procedure are essential.
This constitutes a breach of the committee's privilege as well as that of the member, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
"It is a fragrant violation of the rules of confidentiality that guide the functioning of parliamentary committees. Further, this also adversely affects the ability of the committee to carry out its deliberations, given that documents and proceedings that should not be available to any other individuals than committee members, have been seized during the aforementioned raids," he said.
These actions by the investigative agencies constitute a serious disregard for parliamentary conventions and the independence of the legislative branch, and as such, warrant urgent remedial action, Tharoor said.
He urged Birla to take cognisance of this serious matter and look into this "violation of privileges".
His letter comes days after Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and chief whip K Suresh wrote to Birla over what they said was "targeted harassment" of Karti Chidambaram through government agencies and sought protection of his parliamentary privileges.
Karti Chidamabaram himself last Friday wrote to Birla alleging that during a raid CBI officers seized "highly confidential" personal notes and papers pertaining to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology of which he is a member, and sought redressal for what he said was a "breach of his parliamentary privilege".
The CBI had questioned Karti Chidambaram for eight hours for the third consecutive day on Saturday in connection with its probe into the alleged Rs 50-lakh bribery for issuance of visas to 263 Chinese workers involved in the construction of a Punjab-based power project in 2011.
Earlier this month, CBI teams had conducted coordinated search operations at 10 locations in multiple cities in the country, including residences of the Chidambarams in Chennai and Delhi.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 31 2022 | 7:35 PM IST

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