Bharatiya Janata Party MP and member of the Standing Committee on Information Technology Nishikant Dubey on Wednesday moved a notice for breach of privilege against panel chairperson Shashi Tharoor’s decision to probe findings of the August 14 report in The Wall Street Journal about Facebook’s alleged “misconduct”, The Indian Express reported.
In the notice, Dubey alleged that Tharoor had sent the notice to Facebook without following rules and had “surpassed all limits of decency, ethics and basic tenets of Parliamentary procedures and practices”. The BJP MP has sent the notice to Speaker Om Birla, requesting him to initiate a privilege motion against the Congress leader.
Earlier this week, Tharoor had summoned Facebook representatives to appear before a panel to explain the news report that claimed the social media giant had chosen to ignore hate speech made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party on its platform, to protect its commercial interests in India. The report alleged that Facebook India’s head of public policy, Ankhi Das, “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP even though they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.
Dubey accused Tharoor of committing a serious breach of privilege to use the IT panel “not only to serve his political agenda” but also to “tarnish BJP and sensationalise a small incident by misusing his official powers”.
The BJP leader claimed that Tharoor had not discussed the move to constitute an inquiry panel with the committee members. “It is, therefore, a clear case, of Breach of Privilege by Dr Shashi Tharoor in the capacity of honourable Chairperson of the Departmentally Related Standing Committee on Information Technology,” he said.
Dubey also referred to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and said that “by levelling the said unsubstantiated allegations against all the MPs, who belong to the BJP, he too had “lowered the dignity of all such Members of Parliament and infringed upon their Parliamentary Privileges”.
The BJP MP had earlier publicly criticised Tharoor on Twitter, saying that he had violated rules by constituting the panel without getting the approval of the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Tharoor gives breach of privilege notice against Dubey
Meanwhile, Tharoor on Tuesday also gave a notice for breach of privilege against Dubey, alleging that he had made “disparaging remarks” on social media over his decision to summon a panel meeting, PTI reported. “The contemptuous words used by...Dubey have cast aspersions on the intent and integrity with which I fulfil my duties as an elected representative,” he said.
In his letter to Birla, Tharoor said Dubey’s allegations that he had championed the Congress’ “agenda without authorisation by the Committee and Speaker” amounted to breach of privilege of his position as an MP and chairperson of the standing committee.
“Nishikant Dubey’s derogatory remarks have not only brought disrepute to my position as a Member of Parliament and Chairman but also to an institution that mirrors the will of the people of our country,” he added.
Tharoor claimed that the subject of the meeting had been unanimously approved by the committee members, Speaker’s and Lok Sabha secretary general’s offices and thereafter, it was placed in public domain through publication in the bulletin.
“Therefore, to claim that the chairman has acted in excess of his authority to convene a meeting on a pre-approved agenda, and has proceeded without seeking the necessary approvals, is tantamount to contempt of the due procedure followed by the House,” he added.
The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram also underlined the serious nature of allegations made against Facebook and “its far-reaching implications on the citizens’ Right to Information”. Tharoor said he sought to convene the committee meeting as part of the normal course of discussions on “safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms”.