Thiruvananthapuram; Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan mentioned a violation of privilege notice issued by Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan against Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac to the Privileges and Ethics Committee of the Assembly for scrutiny on Wednesday.
It is the first time in the history of the House that a breach of privilege notice against a Minister is directed to the committee for investigation. The decision came after Dr. Isaac gave his explanation pursued by Mr. Sreeramakrishnan on the grounds of the notice under Section 159 of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. Mr. Satheesan had asserted that Dr. Isaac violated the rights of the House by prematurely revealing the facts of an audit report of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) for 2018-19 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
On Wednesday, while speaking to reporters, the Speaker told that the committee had also been asked to examine the elemental points raised by Dr. Isaac, in his response on the laying of the CAG report in the House and on the infringement of privilege executed by the CAG. The nine-member committee led by A. Pradeep Kumar will meet on December 4 to look into the matter. “The Minister has pointed out that this was not just a matter of breach of privilege of the Assembly but there are certain unprecedented situations. Let the committee decide after hearing both sides,” the Speaker said.
According to Dr. Isaac, he assumed that it was a draft report from the CAG and that he thought the CAG would pursue the contention of the government ahead of organizing the final report. However, it was only later that he learned it was the final CAG report. Opposition parties tried to illustrate the Speaker’s judgment as an indication of the defection of Dr. Isaac by the party and administration. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Dr. Isaac should resign as he did not have the privilege to persist in the position. He had also violated the Official Secrets Act and a case should be filed against him under the Indian Penal Code, he said.
Dr. Isaac received the opportunity to describe his case and said the Speaker’s decision was not a punishment as was made out by the Opposition parties.