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Bose Sore on Speaker Administering Oath to New Members, Jailed Radicals Take Oath as MPs

Bose Sore on Speaker Administering Oath to New Members, Jailed Radicals Take Oath as MPs

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NEW DELHI, July 5: After holding back their swearing-in for a month, the West Bengal governor CV Ananda Bose on Friday hit out at the ruling Trinamool Congress for the speaker of the state assembly administering them the oath ignoring his appointee the deputy speaker.

In Delhi the jailed radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh and Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, who were granted parole to take oath as members of the Lok Sabha, were sworn in as MPs on Friday amid heavy deployment of security personnel in and around the Parliament complex.

Two of the TMC members Sayantika Banerjee and Reyat Hossain Sarkar, who were elected in the by-elections held along with the Lok Sabha elections, took oath as MLAs on Friday though the results of the bypolls were declared on June 5. Their oaths had been pending since and became the focus of a bitter and prolonged stand-off between the Trinamool and the Governor’s office.

Their oaths were eventually administered on Friday evening by Speaker Biman Banerjee. After the ceremony was over, Trinamool legislators raised the ‘Jai Bangla‘ slogan in the House. However, Mr Bose then declared that the Speaker had “defied Constitutional prescription” by administering their oaths despite the Governor’s office appointing his deputy, Ashish Banerjee. However, Mr Banerjee declined to do so, pointing out the Speaker had precedence.

Mr Bose has said a report would be sent to President Droupadi Murmu “about the Constitutional impropriety of the Speaker in administering the oath to the two newly elected MLAs.” “This Constitutional transgression has been done in spite of the Governor appointing the Deputy Speaker as the person before whom the two newly elected MLAs shall take their oaths.”

In a post on X, Mr Bose referred to a provision in the Constitution that says an MLA “shall, before taking his seat, make and subscribe before the Governor, or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose.” He also dismissed the Speaker’s reference to other rules. “Can any rule be above the Constitution?”

Last week Ms Banerjee and Mr Sarkar had launched a sit-in protest outside the Assembly building after the Governor declined to either administer the oath or delegate the responsibility. But earlier today he issued the communique authorising the Deputy Speaker to do so.

However, by then the Speaker had summoned a special session of the Assembly, declaring that the House could not, and would not, depend solely on the Governor’s nod to function. The Speaker, Mr Banerjee, earlier also sought the President’s help and accused the Governor of egoistic behaviour.

The stand-off was triggered by the Governor inviting the two MLAs to take oath at his residence. The Speaker, and the Trinamool, insisted Mr Bose ought to come to the Assembly.

“We respect him… and the Constitution… but he is not giving us respect. He should come to the Assembly and conduct the oath-taking… or give this authority to the Speaker. We are sitting here with the Constitution… We are elected, unlike a nominated position like you…” Mr Banerjee said.

The oath ceremony, meanwhile, has also been criticised by the opposition BJP, which claimed it had not been told of the special session. “I had no information… did not get any notice. In every state, a courtesy call is given to the LoP but here there was no interaction…” Suvendu Adhikari said.

In the Lok Sabha, among the two jailed radicals while Rashid is in Delhi’s Tihar jail in a terror funding case registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Singh is lodged in a prison in Assam’s Dibrugarh district for offences under the National Security Act. They were brought to the Parliament complex by security personnel this morning.

The MPs-elect took oath in the chamber of the Lok Sabha speaker after completing formalities, a source said. Singh (31) and Rashid (56) won the recent Lok Sabha elections from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab and Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, as Independents while being incarcerated.

They could not take oath as members of the 18th Lok Sabha on June 24 and 25 along with the other winning candidates. For taking oath, Rashid was granted a two-hour custody parole, excluding the travel time from Tihar to Parliament,  and Singh a four-day custody parole, beginning July 5, in view of the travel from Assam to Delhi and back.

Their parole orders stated that during their period of temporary release, they can neither speak to or address the media on any issue or make any statements. Their family members also cannot make a statement in any form of media.

While Singh, a Khalistani sympathiser who heads the ‘Waris Punjab De’ outfit, has been allowed to meet his family in Delhi, Rashid’s family had permission only to attend his oath taking. The parole for Rashid, who has been in jail since 2019 after his arrest in 2017, was granted by a court in Delhi and that of Singh by the district magistrate of Amritsar from where he was arrested in April 2023 for barging into a police station in February and clashing with police personnel in a bid to free one of his aides from custody.

Both Singh and Rashid are to be accompanied by security personnel at all times during their parole periods, the orders stated. The Delhi Police and Punjab Police were directed to coordinate with the secretary general of the Lok Sabha for procedures inside the Parliament complex.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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