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BJP MP urges Speaker to remove Shashi Tharoor as chairman of parliamentary panel on IT

The IT panel, meanwhile, decided to summon representatives of Facebook & IT ministry on 2 September to hear their views on measures taken to prevent misuse of social media platforms.

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New Delhi: The sparring between the BJP and the opposition members of the Parliamentary Standing committee on Information Technology over the Facebook hate speech row took a new turn Thursday with BJP MP Nishikant Dubey writing to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, requesting for removal of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor as the chairman of the panel.

Meanwhile, the IT panel Thursday issued a meeting notice, summoning representatives of Facebook as well as the IT Ministry on 2 September to hear their views on measures they have taken to safeguard citizens’ rights and prevent misuse of social/online news media platforms, including special emphasis on women’s security in the digital space.

This is the first time the committee will be meeting after a controversy broke out over the hate speech issue.

In his letter, Dubey, a BJP MP from Jharkhand, requested Birla to invoke Rule 283 in relation to Rule 258(3) of the rules of procedures and conduct of business in Lok Sabha to choose another member to act as the chairperson in place of Tharoor.

“In my instant petition, since I have raised some pertinent issues, which requires your kind attention and intervention to save the Parliamentary institutions, till the time all these issues are resolved, in tune with our established parliamentary traditions and probity in public life, it would be highly improper for Dr Shashi Tharoor to continue and regulate the proceedings of the Parliamentary committee on IT,” Dubey said in his letter.

He appealed to the Speaker to persuade Tharoor to proceed on leave and, thereafter, by invoking rule 258(3) of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha, choose another member of the committee to act as chairperson, the letter stated.

According to Rule 283, the Speaker may from time to time issue such directions to the chairperson of a committee, as the Speaker considers necessary, for regulating its procedure and the organisation of its work.  

Rule 258(3) says that if the Chairperson is absent from any sitting, the committee shall choose another member to act as Chairperson for that sitting.

On Tuesday, Tharoor had sent a ‘breach of privilege’ notice to the Lok Sabha Speaker against Dubey for making “disparaging remarks” against him on social media. Dubey too sent a counter notice to the Speaker against Tharoor Wednesday.

Criticising Tharoor, Dubey wrote, “… speaking in ‘Spenserian’ English with a foreign accent does not give freedom to an individual not only to disregard our glorious parliamentary institutions/organs to meet his own political ambitions but also to abuse our constitution by referring to the ‘House of Commons’ for establishing that while raising pertinent issues for regulating the affairs of the parliamentary committee on IT as per established procedures, I have committed the offence of breach of privilege.”

Dubey told ThePrint, “Article 105(3) was amended in 1978 and the purpose of this amendment was that a proud country like India would like to avoid making any reference to a foreign institution in its own solemn Constitutional document.”

The row started Sunday when Tharoor had tweeted that the standing committee would seek the views of Facebook on a news report published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on 14 August that said Facebook India had turned a blind eye to hate speech by a BJP leader and three other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups” to avoid damaging the social media platform’s business prospects in its biggest market.

Dubey claimed Tharoor made this statement without taking the members of the panel into confidence.

“We have never said that Facebook and WhatsApp should not be regulated or that they should not be summoned by the IT committee. However, there is a process to be followed and the members of the panel have to be taken into confidence,” Dubey told ThePrint.

When ThePrint reached Tharoor’s office to get a comment on the matter, he refused to speak on the issue. 


Also read: Facebook, Twitter can’t police on speech violation. Only Indian law can


What the letter says

In Thursday’s letter, Dubey claimed that ever since Tharoor became the chairman of the panel, he is running the affairs of the committee in a “thoroughly unprofessional manner to serve his political agenda of spreading rumours and defaming the BJP and other members who have been elected by the electorates of this great country and are members of the standing committee on IT”.

Dubey, in the letter, cited examples of several instances of how Tharoor has appeared before social media platforms and severely criticised the government on the aspect of 4G internet not being available in Jammu and Kashmir despite the matter being sub-judice.

The Congress leader, Dubey wrote, also criticised the government on social media platforms for imposing a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, “knowing well that this aspect is entirely connected with a wider canvas of national security”. Dubey said Tharoor also never felt it necessary to discuss it with the members of the panel.

The BJP MP further said that this clearly establishes that Tharoor has failed in his duties as chairman of the panel and it is now an impossibility to regulate the affairs of the committee on IT in accordance with the rules of procedures and conduct of business in Lok Sabha and direction issued by the Speaker until the time Tharoor continues to occupy the “exalted seat of chairperson”.

Dubey also claimed that Tharoor is “not a new architect of creating unnecessary controversies to grind his political ambitions and at the same time targeting BJP, even by misusing the parliamentary institutions”.


Also read: Hate speech issues were internally flagged in Facebook in 2018, claims MP Mahua Moitra


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Let India and Indians live in peace.
    Keep petty politics, petty loyalties, petty prejudice and all your pettiness to yourselves.
    Don’t spread this virus of dividing Indians.

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