Saturday, February 19, 2011


19 Feb 2011



From Jal Khambata

NEW DELHI: In a new embarrassing twist for the government trying to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the 2G scam, arrested former telecom minister A Raja wants to attend the Lok Sabha and participate in the debate expected on Tuesday on an official resolution for the committee's constitution.

Even if he is unable to participate in the debate, he wants to exercise his right to make a clean breast of the scam allegations, exercising the right under the Lok Sabha rule 357 that "a member may, with the permission of the Speaker, make a personal explanation, although there is no question before the House."

He had refrained from making a personal statement in the House in November as allowed to any minister on resignation because that would have embarrassed the government, but he wants to exercise the right as a MP now since after the Prime Minister painting him as a culprit in his televised media interaction early this week, his DMK MPs said.

INTERIM BAIL OR PERMISSION: Though in the judicial custody in Tihar Jails here until March 3, he has asked his lawyer to examine and secure an interim bail from the CBI court to enable him to attend Parliament to perform his duties as a parliamentarian.

Failing to get the bail, he wants the court's direction to the Tihar Jail authorities to take him to the Parliament House daily in custody to enable him attend the Lok Sabha.

He does not want to attend Parliament on the opening day of the budget session on Monday when the two Houses will adjourn after the President's address to a joint session as it does not serve his purpose, but he has asked the lawyer to secure an interim bail or get the court's permission to attend the House from 11 AM every day from Tuesday and return to the jail only after the day's proceedings end.

Himself a lawyer, Raja's view is that even the convicted MPs whose appeals are pending in higher courts are allowed to attend Parliament under the police escort while he is just an accused who has not even been charge-sheeted and hence the court cannot restrain him from attending the House, the DMK MPs said.

Failing to get relief from Special CBI Judge O P Saini who sent him to the judicial custody in the 2G scam on Thursday, Raja contemplates to even approach the High Court to get permission to attend the House.

CBI OPPOSED: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be, however, opposing any interim bail or any sort of freedom from the custody on the ground that the investigations in the scam have not yet been concluded and Raja can derail the process if he gets free access to meet anybody.

Once any MP in custody, whether convicted or not allowed bail, is brought to the Parliament House by police, he gets full freedom to move in the sprawling complex and police has to sit out to get him back to jail. The escorting Policemen cannot go around with the MP in the complex which is completely under jurisdiction of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

The CBI has got scent of Raja's plans to attend Parliament and hence it is taking legal advice on how to prevent him even a temporary release from the judicial custody. Its worry is that Raja will be moving around the Parliament House complex and can meet those who are yet to be interrogated in the case, affecting the investigations.

Of course, he cannot meet any such suspect in the House itself but the CBI has no way to check whom he meets in the Central Hall, the Parliament library or any other place in the complex and that will defeat the very purpose for which he is confined to the custody, the agency officials point out.

KARUNA PLANS: Meanwhile, the DMK MPs said their party supremo and chief minister M Karunanidhi is contemplating to make a day's trip to Delhi next week to meet Raja inside the Tihar Jails, provided his health permits six hours of flight to and fro Chennai.

They said Karunanidhi wants to send a strong signal to the DMK cadres that Raja has done no wrong by meeting him in jail. It will also send a political message to the Congress. A trip to Raja before starting the Assembly election campaign will remove despondency in the demoralised DMK cadres, the party MPs said.


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