New Delhi: Congress MP K C Venugopal’s breach-of-privilege notice over a statement by the junior health minister that no death of Covid patients due to a lack of oxygen has been reported is under examination by the chair, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday.
At the start of the day’s proceedings in the Upper House of Parliament, Venugopal said he has given a notice under rule 187 for moving a breach-of-privilege motion against Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar for misleading the House.
The Congress member said this pertained to a question he had raised in the House.
“My question was direct — whether it is a fact that a large number of COVID-19 patients died on road and in hospitals due to an acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave (of the coronavirus pandemic),” Venugopal said. “This was my question. The minister answered that no death occurred due to an oxygen shortage.”
Naidu said he has received the notice and “it is being examined”.
“I have to seek the response of the concerned minister once I forward it (the notice) to (the minister). The process is on. Rest assured. There is a system,” he said.
In his notice, Venugopal cited six media reports that spoke of an oxygen shortage in Delhi, Goa, Haryana and Karnataka, and argued that Pawar’s reply “was a deliberate distortion of facts by the minister as…reports in the public domain would testify the truth otherwise”.
Sukhendu Sekhar Ray of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) stated that no notice under rule 267 has been accepted by the chair since November 2016.
“On no occasion has rule 267 been allowed in the last five years,” he said. “I strongly believe that the rule still exists in the rule book and kindly allow us to discuss (under) rule 267.”
A notice under rule 267 seeks setting aside of the listed business of the day to take up a discussion on an issue that is being raised in the House.
“We have to discuss it also…because rule 267 was rarely used (in the past),” Naidu said. “Now I am receiving 10-15 notices every day and on different issues. If the House has to be adjourned on those, adjourned…. I want the House to function and discuss the issues. That is why there is a difference of opinion, we will see to it.”
Also read: Why states/UTs didn’t report Covid deaths due to lack of O2 despite ‘oxygen shortage’ crisis