New Delhi: After being denied permission to enter Lakshadweep, eight Members of Parliament have given breach of privilege notice against the island’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel Friday evening, for showing “disrespect” to public representatives and “deliberately obstructing” them from visiting the island, which is a part of India.
The delegation of MPs from the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Kerala Congress (M) and the Loktantrik Janata Dal, an ally of ruling Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, wanted to visit the island to do a fact-check on the slew of controversial regulations proposed by Patel since January and its impact on the people.
Based on their findings, they would have submitted a report to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation from the ground.
Lakshadweep has been witnessing a massive uproar from locals and politicians from the region, including the neighbouring state of Kerala, over the contentious policies.
The draft policies include the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, which gives the administrator powers to remove or relocate islanders from their property for town planning or any developmental activity, the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, introduced in January 2021 which gives the power to detain people without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year, the Animal Preservation Regulation that bans cow slaughter and the Panchayat regulation that disqualifies those with more than two children from getting elected to the gram panchayat.
Also read: Sedition case against Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana for calling Praful Patel ‘bio-weapon’
6 MPs give notice in Rajya Sabha, two in Lok Sabha
Six of the eight MPs — Elamaram Kareem, Binoy Viswam, M.V. Shreyams Kumar, V. Sivadasan, K. Somaprasad and John Brittas — who are all members of the Rajya Sabha have served the notice to the upper house’s secretary general, under Rule 187 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.
Meanwhile, CPI(M)’s A.M. Ariff and Thomas Chazhikadan from Kerala Congress (M) gave their notices to the secretary general of the Lok Sabha, under Rule 222 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
“We told the administration that we will follow all Covid protocols including producing a negative RTPCR report and undertaking the seven day mandatory quarantine after entering the island. But our first request was rejected citing Covid restrictions and the administration did not respond to our second letter,” Kareem told ThePrint.
The CPI(M) MP said that disallowing MPs to enter a part of the country is a breach of Parliamentary privilege.
“This is unconstitutional. Two sessions of the Parliament were held during the Covid pandemic in September 2020 and January this year.The only requirement was that everybody including the PM, vice president and MPs attending the session had to get themselves tested. We also agreed to get ourselves tested but even then we were denied permission
Lakshadweep collector S. Asker Ali, however, said currently no one from outside is being given permission to enter the island because of the Covid situation.
“We will review it once the Covid situation improves,” Ali told ThePrint.
BJP’s national vice-president A.P. Abdullakutty, who is in-charge of Lakshadweep, told ThePrint, “MPs have the right to give breach of privilege notice. It’s part of parliamentary procedure. But the administration’s point is simple — there are strict Covid restrictions in place. It’s not practical to allow any outsider inside the island now.”
However, NCP MP Mohammed Faizal said that it’s the constitutional right of MPs to visit any place in the country to study the ground situation arising out of any contentious issue or policies.
“How can you deny MPs permission to enter the island? Especially when they are saying that they will adhere to all Covid protocols,” Faizal said.
Also read: Lakshadweep draft laws disturbing, against ethos of islands: ex-civil servants to PM