Published On: Tue, Mar 21st, 2023

‘Scurrilous’ claims made against me, have right to respond’: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has asserted that he has the right to respond in Parliament to the “totally baseless” and “unfair charges” hurled at him by senior ministers in the Lok Sabha over his democracy remarks.

I am seeking this permission under the conventions of Parliamentary practice

In a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Gandhi invoked Rule 357 which allows for “personal explanations” and also cited the example of BJP MP and then minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who invoked the Rule to give an explanation regarding comments made by Jyotiraditya Scindia in relation to him in Parliament

“I am making such a request again. I am seeking this permission under the conventions of Parliamentary practice, the constitutionally embedded rules of natural justice, and Rule 357 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha,” he said in his letter to the Speaker.

Citing Rule 357, Gandhi said, “A member may, with the permission of the Speaker, make a personal explanation although there is no question before the House, in this case, no debatable matter may be brought forward, and no debate shall arise.”

The Congress leader said members of the ruling regime have made “scurrilous and defamatory claims against me” both within and outside Parliament. “As a result of these allegations, and the rules invoked by these individuals, it is only appropriate that you kindly allow me a right to reply as contained in Rule 357 which allows for ‘personal explanations’,” he said.

He also claimed that there are several examples available on the Lok Sabha Digital Library that show that this right isn’t restricted to responding to statements made within Parliament but extends to allegations made in the public domain as well.

“Finally, Parliament like any other institution is bound by the Rules of Natural Justice contained in Articles 14 and 21 of our Constitution. They are a guarantee against administrative arbitrariness and ensure that every person has a right to be heard in a cause with which they are concerned.

“Surely, you would agree that Parliament of all institutions cannot abdicate the responsibility to respect this right when it doesn’t suit the ruling regime. “I hope the above satisfies your query and that you will allow me a right to reply in the Lok Sabha at the earliest,” Gandhi told the Speaker and added that he will be away in Karnataka and Kerala on March 20 and 21.

Gandhi’s democracy remarks have triggered a massive political row, with the BJP accusing him of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking foreign interventions and the Congress hitting back, citing instances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising internal politics abroad.

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