Pegasus Row: Parliamentary Panel to Question Govt Officials Postponed
BJP members on the panel refused to sign the attendance register, causing a lack of quorum required for the meeting.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Panel on Wednesday, 28 July, that was supposed to see government officials being questioned on the Pegasus spyware issue was put off due to a lack of quorum, PTI reported.
The 32-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT was scheduled to meet on Wednesday. The agenda had been listed as well — Citizens data security and privacy.
Some members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, met in Parliament to discuss the issue. However, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the panel refused to sign the attendance register in protest, causing a lack of quorum required to hold the meeting.
Tharoor had said that panel members would be questioning officials from the Information and Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry on the Pegasus issue. However, BJP members said that that since the Congress is not allowing a discussion on the issue in Parliament, it could not be discussed in the committee meeting, reported PTI.
Nishikant Dubey Moves Privilege Motion Against Tharoor
Earlier in the day, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey moved a privilege motion against Tharoor.
Saying that Tharoor had lost the trust of a majority of the members on the panel Dubey demanded removal of Tharoor as the head of Parliament Information Technology Panel and allegedly accused him of discriminatory use of his position as chairperson, reported News 18.
Dubey's notice to the Lok Sabha against Tharoor read, “Needless to say that this ‘gentleman’ has not only disrobed the democratic functioning of an August Committee but also exhibited an extreme high level of sycophancy towards his political masters, who still have a false notion of ruling our country and its democratic institutions by way of destroying them bit-by-bit and also creating a ruckus through their cronies like the present chairperson of the committee on Information Technology.”
This move comes a day after BJP MPs staged a walk out of the IT committee meeting indicating that the agenda was not conveyed to them.
The MPs said that the agenda should be set with the consent of the committee members and accused Tharoor of breaching secrecy, saying that he makes the agenda public without the knowledge of the members.
Dubey's notice on Wednesday also made this point, saying that Tharoor decides on the 'agenda' of the sitting of the IT committee meeting and does not share it with the members of the committee but to the media and his Twitter handle.
"All BJP MPs boycotted the IT committee meeting because of Shashi Tharoor's personal agenda. When the House is functioning, how can meetings be scheduled at the same time? It is our job as MPs to help Parliament function."Nishikant Dubey, MP, BJP
Since the Monsoon Session of Parliament commenced on 19 July, both Houses have seen repeated disruptions over the Pegasus Project reports, as the Opposition has been demanding a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe.
Reports published by news organisations across the world on 18 July revealed that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to snoop on at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of several journalists, politicians, government officials, and rights activists.
(With Inputs from News18, The Week and PTI)
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