Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday granted two more weeks to the Lok Sabha panel probing the issue regarding Bhagwant Mann shooting a video of the Parliament complex and asked the Aam Aadmi Party member not to attend the House till a decision was taken on the matter.
The decision followed a request from panel chairman Kirit Somaiya seeking more time as more witnesses needed to be examined and certain critical issues probed in depth.
Somaiya has submitted that in view of the gravity of the matter, the unanimous view among members of the committee was that for doing justice to the panel’s remit, it needed some more time, the speaker said.
“On due consideration of grounds and reasons stated, I have acceded to the request for extension of two weeks more time w.e.f. August 4, 2016,” Mahajan informed the House.
However, Mann said that he should be allowed to take part in the proceedings till the committee files its report.
The Sangrur MP said he is being "stopped from raising the voice of people including those of poor and Dalits".
"They (Lok Sabha panel) can throw me out. But at least they should make the decision fast. Now they have taken two more weeks...Let the panel probe the matter but I should be allowed to attend the House till then. I am not held guilty yet. They want to suppress my voice," Mann said.
"Now with the grant of two weeks more to the panel, I am virtually out of the Parliament session which will go on till August 12. I wanted to raise the issue of poor, the Dalits, the unemployed. Now I will not be able to raise these issues," he said.
He said he will not change his reply given to the Lok Sabha Speaker on this issue.
"They (panel) want me to change my reply. They want me to delete the name of the prime minister and ISI. I will not do that," he claimed.
The nine-member committee, set up on July 25, was to submit its report by Wednesday.
“As earlier observed by me, in view of seriousness of the matter, Bhagwant Mann, MP is further advised not to attend the sittings of the House until a decision is taken in the matter,” Mahajan said.
On July 25 too, the speaker had asked Mann not to attend the House till a decision was arrived at.
The panel was set up a week after Mann had put out in the social media a video of his vehicle passing security barricades and entering the Parliament complex. He had also videographed a room where Parliament questions were being sorted.
Besides Somaiya, the panel has two other Bharatiya Janata Party members -- Meenakshi Lekhi and Satyapal Singh. The others are Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena), B Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal), Ratna De (Trinamool Congress), Thota Narasimham (Telugu Desam Party), K C Venugopal (Congress) and P Venugopal (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham).
AAP leader Ashutosh alleged that on July 18, "two officials of the Home Ministry" had showed up at a Naturopathy Clinic in Bengaluru where Mann was undergoing treatment. The officals enquired about the Sangrur MP and took pictures, he claimed.
Ashutosh said this vindicated AAP's stand that its MPs and MLAs were being "houded" by the Narendra Modi dispensation.
Khetan said that a perception was being created that Mann had committed a "blunder" or a "terror act". The matter should have ended with Mann's unconditional apology in the floor of the House, Khetan said.
"This is an unprecedented witchhunt against a lone MP. His voice is being gagged as he consistenly raises issues such as farm crisis in Punjab. The same Parliament has 34 per cent MPs with criminal cases pending against them.
"Why no action is taken against BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri who had used disparaging language against members of the minority community on the floor of the House?" Khetan asked.
Ashutosh alleged that two "inebriated" BJP MPs, had recently abused TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar in the Parliament House premises, "but they have not been acted against".
On August 1, a defiant Mann told the panel that he has not breached the security of Parliament complex. Last week, in a five-page letter, Mann had refused to tender an unqualified apology.
Slamming the decision to grant extension to the Lok Sabha panel probing AAP MP Bhagwant Mann's videography issue, his party alleged it was an "unprecedented witchhunt" with the entire BJP "ganging up" against him.