Shri Manish Tewari addressed the media today
New Delhi, July 12
Shri Manish Tewari said that the Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a charge sheet against the Hon’ble Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in a CBI Special Court. The matter pertains to alleged corruption in the recruitment of 909 Panchayat Secretaries during the tenure of the current Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha when he was the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayti Raj. It would be pertinent to recap that the Hon’ble speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had challenged the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Punjab & Haryana High Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Both the Courts had dismissed the petitions filed by the Hon’ble Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha has been charged Under Section 120(B) r/w Section 468, 471 and 201 of the IPC r/w 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. If the claim of the investigating agency that they have found evidence to substantiate the charges, it would be worth recalling that the gentleman in question was also the person who allowed the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to be converted into a political wrestling mat and illegally presided over the expulsion of the former Chief Minister of Punjab Capt. Amrinder Singh from the Membership of Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
A constitution bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the action of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha was illegal. The observations which were made by the Court should have been enough to compel any self respecting individual to resign immediately. The Akalis, are, of course, devoid of any political morality. But the Bhartiya Janata Party which on a regular basis quantificates on morality in public life, I would like to ask them why do they not tell their coalition partner in Punjab – the Akali Dal – to withdraw its nominee as the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabh and if the Akali Das refuses to do that, would the BJP snap their alliance with them. Are they prepared to walk the talk on morality?
Mr.Advani writes in his blog that we should be a party with difference and this is the difference which is being articulated on the ground. It is perhaps for the first time that the sitting Speaker of a Legislature has been charge-sheeted in an alleged act of corruption. It has very serious implications for the health of democracy and for the health of parliamentary and legislative institutions. It is untenable for such a man to preside over a legislative body which reflects the will of the sovereign. The Congress Party demand that the Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha should immediately step down from his position. It is a travesty of Punjab that on one hand the State has been drowned in the flood and on the other hand the State Government is drowning in corruption.
To a question with regard to the relief to the flood affected people in Punjab & Haryana, Shri Tewari said that there had been huge loss of crop in the recent floods. The State Government is asking for assistance from the Central Government. Without politicizing the matter, Shri Tewari said that as on 30th June 2010 the Government of Punjab has an amount to the tune of Rs. 2316.46 Crores with them under the Calamity Relief Fund available to them.
The Central instalment of Rs. 83.59 Crores was released before the flood occurred. The State Government was supposed to contribute Rs. 27.87 Crores and I do not know whether they have contributed but in all they have Rs. 2316.46 Crores available with them. They should spent this money and if at all there is more assistance required, the Central Government has never been found wanting. The same criteria applies to Haryana also. Haryana Government has also an amount to the tune of Rs. 1191.45 Crores is available with them under the Calamity Relief Fund and after they have exhausted the same amount, they can seek Central assistance.
To a question over the statement of Congress Party MP criticizing their own Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh, Shri Tewari said I think insofar as assessment on intra-party or intra organizational is concerned, that judgment should be best left to us and as I have always maintained that as far as intra-organizational matters are concerned, the appropriate person to comment about it is the General Secretary In-Charge of Andhra Pradesh Mr. Veerappa Moily.
On the question of reaction of the Congress Party over the statement of Nitin Gadkari, Shri Tewari said that we have always maintained that the unparliamentary and indecent language does not deserve to be commented upon. There is a language of politics and if somebody violates the same, then this reflects upon the class of the organization which he belongs to.
On the question of the ban on Shivaji book in Maharashtra, Shri Tewari said it would be far more appropriate if the question is directed to Maharashtra Government but we have always maintained that we do not comment on judgments which are delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the law of the land is very clear. There is a provision in the Constitution of India that it is the responsibility and duty of each and every Government to implement in letter and spirit the verdicts delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Shri Tewari further said that it is also at the option of the State Government to present their case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court again. There are instrumentalities available in the form of Review Petition. If the Maharashtra Government has a certain view on a certain judgment and if that view has a merit in it, they can obviously have liberty to approach the Supreme Court once again using the instrumentalities available to articulate their view and to see if the Supreme Court would like to adjudicate the same. Shri Tewari also said that Article 19 while guaranteeing the freedom of speech and expression also circumscribes that with reasonable limitation, the law on that has been defined very clearly. So if at all the State Government has a view on it and there is a legal remedy available, which there is in this particular case, they would obviously try to put that argument before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and I think they are well within their rights to do that.
On the question of the reaction of the Congress Party on the attack on UP Minister, Shri Tewari said it is a sensitive issue and we should wait for the outcome of the report of the investigating agency and we will react only after the investigation report is received. But one thing is clear that the degree of lawlessness can be gauged from the fact that a sitting Minister of the Government has been attacked in the State. This incident speaks for itself about the situation of law and order in Uttar Pradesh.
On the question of revocation of the suspension of 4 MLAs suspended last year, Shri Tewari said that this issue is related with Maharashtra, it is the prerogative of the Speaker of the State Assembly to see whether the suspension is to be revoked or not.
On the statement of Jat Maha Sabha to disrupt the Commonwealth Games in Delhi if they are not given reservation till 28th July 2010 and also the issue of Karnataka Congress Party MLAs coming to Vidhan Sabha wearing helmets, Shri Tewari said that in response to your first question, reservation has been a contentious issue and the State and even the country has been divided on it. If somebody has legitimate grievance to put forth, the Government in its wisdom is always prepared to examine it but I would like to request the Maha Sabha if at all they use the language which you are attributing to them, then there is a need for everybody to exercise restraint and caution. If at all they do have a demand which needs to be looked at, the Government in the past has always looked at the demand and taken a decision on its merits. Shri Tewari further said as far as Karnataka is concerned, if elected MLAs are not safe, and they have to wear helmets to protect themselves from an organized group which is bent upon intimidating and terrorizing them. I think it is a very telling story about the state of law and order in the State of Karnataka.
On the question of situation in Kerala with regard to coming up of linkages of terrorists, Shri Tewari said that some of the matters are being investigated by NIA. If at all there is something which is detrimental to the interest and security of the nation, today there is law and instrumentality available in order to address them correctly. I do not think it would be appropriate to comment on matters which may be in the stage of investigation which may require sensitive handling. Therefore, it is best left to the wisdom of the State Government and if the State Government for some reason decides not to act upon it, then instrumentalities are available in the form of laws which have been passed by the previous Parliament.
On the reaction of the Congress Party over the PDP not participating in all-party peace meet, Shri Tewari said that over the past 14 years with lot of efforts democracy has been brought back; a lot of investment has been made in bringing the people of J&K into the national main stream. If at all there is a political party which is wedded to the democratic process which considers it to be the part of main stream, it is incumbent upon them to rise above political differences and ensure that separatist and anarchist elements are isolated from the main stream of the society.
On the question of situation in J&K with regard to calling of the Army and the statement of Shri Saif-ud-din Soz, Shri Tewari said that para-military forces or the military is only to aid the civil administration in the discharge of their duties. Mr. Saif-ud-din Soz has categorically pointed to this constitutional position that the para- military forces are there to help the civil administration and I do not think there is any contradiction. Insofar as cracking down on the use of certain web site is concerned, obviously if there is a material which is considered by the authorities to be seditious, if it is in contravention of the Information Technology Act and the other statutes which govern this domain, then obviously they were well within their rights to take action upon it.