Odisha Assembly: Speaker refuses discussion on chit fund scam

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Assembly plunged into turmoil and was adjourned for the day without transacting any business today as Speaker Niranjan Pujari rejected opposition notices seeking a debate on multi-crore chit fund scam.

“Question pertaining to chit fund issue, which is the subject matter of adjudication before the designated courts and subject matter of investigation by CBI as well as inquiry under the commission set up under Commission of Inquiry Act, should not be allowed to be raised in the Assembly,” Pujari said quoting Advocate General Surya Prasad Mishra.

The Speaker had on November 25 sought AG’s advice on whether to allow a debate in the House on chit fund issue.

“I have meanwhile received the advice of the Advocate General and feel that his suggestions are justified.

Therefore, there cannot be discussion on chit fund issue in the Assembly,” Pujari said in his ruling.

“In this context, no honourable member can raise or refer the chit fund issue in the Assembly even during the demand discussion,” Pujari announced.

Opposition Congress and BJP, however, rejected the Speaker’s ruling and raised question on the authority of the Advocate General on the matter of freedom of speech of the members of the assembly.

“The Advocate General’s observation on the matter is not based on any rule or logic. Therefore, we do not accept it and allow anyone to infringe into the privilege of the members,” Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress said, asking the Speaker to summon the Advocate General to the House for clarification on his advice.

While justifying his stand, Mishra asked how matter relating to black money was discussed in Parliament when the matter was sub-judice.

“Here in case of chit fund, as per my knowledge, not pending for adjudication in any of the courts of law. AG was asked to advice whether the matter relating to chit fund can be discussed through motion or adjournment motion. But, how can he (AG) decide what the members will discuss in demand discussion,” Mishra asked.

Senior BJP member and party’s state president K V Singhdeo expressed wonder over the AG’s observation as well as the ruling of the Speaker. Both Mishra and Singhdeo urged the Speaker to reconsider his ruling and allow the chit fund issue to be discussed in the Assembly during demand discussion.

As the Speaker stood by his ruling, angry Congress and BJP members rushed to the well shouting slogans and displaying posters having picture of chief minister Naveen Patnaik attending a function with Seashore Group CMD Prashant Dash.

Treasury bench members also rushed to the well leading to an uproar in the House. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who was present in the House to initiate debate on the demand discussion of Home and General Administration Department, also witnessed the pandemonium.

Unable to run the House, Pujari adjourned it till tomorrow.

The pre-lunch session also witnessed similar noisy scenes even as the House functioned normally during the post-lunch session yesterday.