Former Army Chief V K Singh on Wednesday failed to appear before the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council for a second time in connection with the privilege motion against him even as the Assembly rejected his plea for quashing it.
A major face-off took place between ruling National Conference and Congress members over the issue of the legality of the privileges committee of the Council.
Ruling NC staged a walkout from the proceedings of the Committee in protest and demanded issuance of non-bailable warrant against Gen Singh for non-appearance.
The Chairman of the privileges committee, Jugal Kishore Sharma, preferred to refer the matter to the Chairman of the Legislative Council for clarification about the legality of the Committee.”
During the proceedings of the Committee, Ravinder Sharma (Congress) termed constitution of the Committee as illegal because he said it is supposed to have five members and not six," Member of the Privileges Committee Devender Singh Rana told reporters.
Rana, who is an NC MLC and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's confidante, said, "We sought the opinion of the law secretary".
"But the committee chairman preferred to refer the matter to the chairman of council," he said.
"I and my colleagues Dar Sahib and Showkat walked out of the meeting. We sought non-bailable warrant for Gen V K Singh to present him before the House," Rana said.
Taking a dig at Congress indirectly, he said "The committee was in operation for last over one year. Why has Ravinder Sharma (Congress) suddenly found it illegal? We will discuss the matter in the Party and chalk out further course of action."
Meanwhile, the Assembly has rejected Gen Singh's plea for quashing the breach of privilege motion against him and referred it to the privileges committee for further examination.
"Speaker Mubarak Gul has referred breach of privilege notice (signed by 15 ministers and members) against Gen (retd) V K Singh along with reply received from him to Committee of privileges of Assembly for further examination, investigation and report," Special Secretary and Spokesperson, JK Assembly, N R Singh said.
The Speaker has turned down General Singh's request for quashing the privilege motion against him, he said.
Asserting that various quotes ascribed to him were inaccurate and incorrect to the extent of being "misquotes", former Army Chief General (retd) V K Singh had in his December 13, 2013, letter to the Speaker sought quashing of privilege motion and no further proceedings against him.
"In response to the allegations levelled against me vide the breach of privilege motion moved by certain members of your House, I almost respectfully point out that various quotes ascribed to me are inaccurate and incorrect to the extent of being misquotes," he had said.
"In light of facts and circumstances, it is respectfully submitted that the allegations levelled against me by way of breach of privilege motion by members of Legislative Assembly are not made out and appear to be a case of misinformation.
"Therefore, the same may kindly be quashed by your goodself (Assembly Speaker) and no further proceedings in regards thereto may kindly be carried out in the interest of justice," Gen Singh had said.
He had replied to Gul in response to the privilege motion moved by the members of the House against his statement to some TV channels.
The Assembly had on December 13 released his reply to the media in order to make it public and also sought comments from the members of the House, who had moved breach of privilege notice against the General.
Gen Singh had claimed during a TV interview that Army was paying money to politicians in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rana also raised question about the representation of Prof Bhim Singh -- a senior lawyer in the case of Gen Singh in committee -- and said "a letter was presented to us by the Chairman of the Privilege Committee signed by Bhim Singh who said he had received a telephonic call from General V K Singh".
"We asked the Chairman of the Committee to verify who has authorised Bhim Singh to write this letter because there was no authorisation on behalf of V K Singh. The Chairman called up Prof Bhim Singh and he asked him to present himself before the Committee," he said.
Sharma said, "Rule 257 of the conduct of business of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council provides that the committee of privileges shall be constituted of members not more than five. This Committee has six members.
"I raised this issue. I came across this provision of law and pointed out that rule provides specifically that Committee shall consist of five members and not six members," he said.
"The constitution of the committee may be defective. There should be a clarification from the Legislative Council Chairman. Only Chairman can give clarification on this issue.
So this question was referred to the Chairman of the House to give a ruling on this issue whether the constitution of the committee is valid," he said.
"Once this is decided, we will proceed in the matter," Sharma said.
"Committee Chairman Jugal Kishore Sharma in view of the legal issue referred the matter to Chairman of the House for his ruling. Chairman will look into whether the committee is legal or not. There is nothing wrong raising this issue.
"Bhim Singh has sent a communication to the chairman of the Committee in which he had said that he was contacted by General V K Singh on telephone. He has sought a convenient date. Before deciding on the request of Bhim Singh, this preliminary issue was raised by me to address it about the legality of the Committee," he said.