SRINAGAR: Speaker assembly Kavinder Gupta overstepped his brief by adjourning the legislature sine die after his order to expunge chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s statement on Article 370 created pandemonium in the house, legal experts say.
Former advocate general Ishaq Qadri told Kashmir Reader the speaker adjourned the house because “he had no answers to the questions raised by legislators post adjournment”.
Before the assembly was adjourned sine die, Gupta had ordered officials to expunge Mehbooba’s remarks calling the attempts to weaken Article 370 as a big “anti-national act”, after a BJP legislator said that the saffron party’s core ideology centred on the abrogation of this Act and therefore they can’t be called as ‘anti-national’ if they speak against Article 370.
The Opposition created ruckus over the Speaker’s decision for two days.
Kavinder told Kashmir Reader CM’s remarks stand as of now, and he would examine it and then take a call.
“His order was illegal. It holds no ground. He is the custodian of the records but it does not mean that he can impose his will or the will of any party,” said Qadri.
According to the rules of procedure and conduct of business in JK Legislative Assembly, the speaker can expunge words and actions in the proceedings of the house that are “defamatory”, “indecent”, “unparliamentary” or “undignified”. Qadri believes CM’s statement was none of these.
“A member of the legislature has a constitutional privilege to make any statement which otherwise can be contemptuous. The house is a representative of people, where questions of public importance can be raised. By adjournment, the honorable speaker has denied this privilege because all the proceedings post adjournment remained stalled,” he added.
Qadri asserted that the speaker could have suspended any member who indulged in throwing chairs. He could have even debated over the issue and made the issue clear, Qadri said.
Senior advocate Zaffar Shah told Kashmir Reader the speaker cannot expunge any statement of any member of the legislature unless the rules permit him to do so.
“First CM’s remark does not fall in the category therefore it cannot be expunged. Two, according to the constitution and the rules, a member of the house enjoys greater degree of freedom of speech,” he said.
According to the rules, secretary of the assembly has to prepare a full report of the proceedings at each of its sittings and shall as soon as practicable publish it in such form and manner as the speaker may, from time to time, direct.
Secretary Assembly Mohammad Ramzan told Kashmir Reader that all the statements made in the house are first recorded by audio recorders and short hand reporters in different languages then their transcription is made and sent it to government press to publish it.
“As of now we were in the process of transcription regarding the recent concluded session,” he said.