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Home > News > PTI

Ronen Sen let off the hook

November 22, 2007 14:56 IST
Last Updated: November 22, 2007 15:25 IST

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Indian envoy to the US Ronen Sen, who was in a soup over his 'headless chicken' remark, was on Thursday let off by the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee with some critical comments against him and an advisory that a diplomat should be discreet.

The committee, which had summoned Sen last month after the remark rocked Parliament during the Monsoon Session, recommended that "keeping in view the unconditional apologies tendered by Sen, the matter may be treated as closed."

"The committee isĀ of the view that no breach of privilege or contempt of the House is involved in the matter," it said in its report tabled in the House on Thursday.

Suggesting that Sen has not covered himself with glory by such an indiscreet comment, it observed that, "This matter could well serve as an advisory on what ought not to be done by a diplomat."

The controversy arose following his remark dubbing those opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal as 'headless chicken' with MPs stalling Parliament and demanding action against him.

This is perhaps for the first time that a senior diplomat was summoned by Parliament.

The committee, headed by V Kishore Chandra S Deo, also reminded him that "discretion in speech is more important than eloquence."

Holding that the phrase 'headless chicken' was "not used by Sen in respect of MPs or politicians", the report suggested it was directed against mediapersons.

"It is a fact that mediapersons run after politicians and MPs for comments/bytes on important issues. Politicians and MPs as a matter of fact are the persons who are making comments. They are not the persons running after comments here and there," the committee observed.

As for misgivings arising out of Sen's interview, the Parliamentary panel was satisfied with his clarification that there was "no malafide intention whatsoever on his part and accepted his unqualified apologies."

Noting that Sen was "assiduously" working for successful clinching of the Indo-US nuclear deal, it said, "In such a scenario, even inadvertent off-the-cuff remarks coming from him, which could be construed as being critical of opponents of the subject in question, should have been well avoided."

The report referred to Sen's submission that it was never his "intention to cast aspersions or to call into question the motivation of Honourable Members of Parliament, let alone the august institution of Parliament, which is the supreme bastion of our democracy."

The committee is of the view that "notwithstanding" the ambassador's contention, it was "indeed an act of indiscretion on his part for having used this expression even in an informal chat with a mediaperson."

It justified the journalist for quoting Sen, saying, "Why would a correspondent/mediaperson seek views of a diplomat or any public figure? Surely, not for any academic purpose. Obviously, it would be for the purpose to publish or transmit the same as news and if possible as breaking news."

"While it is not a sin, not even for a diplomat, to have personal opinion on important issues, it was lamentably naive of a seasoned career civil servant and diplomat to have given vent to his personal opinion on such an issue to a mediaperson, albeit in a unguarded moment," it said.

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