June 15, 2021
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Leave The Privilege Motion Alone

Leave The Privilege Motion Alone

PTI reports:

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today said in the House that notices for moving a Privilege Motion against Puri and Bedi for "allegedly" using "derogatory and defamatory" language against politicians have been received.

Kumar said she had received notices from P L Punia, Jagadambika Pal, Ramashankar Rajbhar, Lalchand Kataria, Mirza Aslam Beg, Praveen Aron and Shailendra Kumar.

"The matter is under my consideration," Kumar said.

During Anna Hazare's agitation at Ramlila grounds on the Lokpal issue, Puri and Bedi had allegedly targeted politicians and used derogatory and defamatory language against them.

In the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan told agitated members that the privilege notices given by Ramgopal Yadav (SP) and Md Adeeb (Ind) were under consideration of the Chairman.

Mr Puri while expressing regrets for using the words 'naalayak' (incompetent) and 'ganwar' (a word often used to describe a backward and an illiterate person) has said that he was very emotional and could have opted for better words. "If I am called, I am ready to go before the Parliament and clarify," while maintaining that he still stood by 95% of his remarks.

Kiran Bedi, on her part, has clearly said:

Sorry no apology for being demonstratively a voice of public anguish. Prepared for any punishment.

As far as remarks against the Parliament or our netas is concerned, while a case could certainly be made against Mr Puri for the distasteful nature of his comments, a privilege motion -- in which, if found guilty of breach of privilege, the two can face up to 15 days in jail -- would certainly be an extreme over-reaction. Mr Puri would have certainly put off more than a few of those who otherwise are fans of his film work.  As for Ms Bedi, again, whether or not one agrees with her utterances or politics, as Lord Meghnad Desai pointed out, what she did and say can at worst be described as a piece of street theatre.

In a democracy, there is scope for dissent, and even if citizens cross the lines of what is considered propriety, and are harsh or rude, our parliamentarians would do well to treat this criticism as the price to pay for freespeech and take these things in the same spirit in which harsh op-eds, caricatures and cartoons and parodies and "laughter shows" on TV are meant and generally taken.

If bad-taste were a crime, even some of the critics of Mr Puri and Ms Bedi, could well be accused of the same: for an example just check out one of the speeches by one of our parliamentarians, linked below, that join issue with these two.

The concerned members have expressed their displeasure and perhaps the matter is best left there.

Tell us what you think.

Some of the reactions on Twitter follow.

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