Trinamool Congress MP Santanu Sen was on Friday suspended from Rajya Sabha for the remaining period of the Monsoon session for snatching and tearing the statement of IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on the Pegasus row, as Upper House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu dubbed Sen's action an "assault on the country's parliamentary democracy."
TMC leader's suspension came after a motion moved by the government was passed in the House with voice vote.
Naidu also expressed anguish over frequent disruptions as he made a passionate appeal to members to allow smooth functioning of the House so that more meaningful discussions could take place.
"The turn of events in the House brings us to the question of what drives the disruptions in Parliament? Is it only political grandstanding," he asked.
The Upper House has not transacted any business this week, except a discussion on the COVID situation and its handling.
Soon after the obituary references and laying of papers, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan moved the motion for Sen's suspension.
After the motion was passed, the Chairman asked Sen to leave the House.
"The motion is approved... Dr Santanu Sen stands suspended for the remaining part of the session... Santanu Sen, you have to withdraw from the house," Naidu said.
However, Sen did not leave the House, forcing repeated adjournments.
According to rules, no business is transacted in Rajya Sabha if a suspended member continues to be present in the House.
Chairman Naidu also posed several questions to the members to ponder over the developments that have taken place in the House yesterday.
Referring to the IT Minister's statement on the Pegasus spyware issue, Naidu said he had made it clear in the business advisory committee meeting that members may seek clarifications which would have enabled them address their concerns in the matter.
"But unfortunately, the proceedings of the House hit a new low with the papers being snatched from the Minister and torn into pieces and thrown in the air. Such actions are a clear assault on our parliamentary democracy," he said in the House.
"They do not cover the world's largest democracy with glory. Should the members of Parliament be a party to degrading the country's standing in the world stage," he asked.
He said he has stressed earlier that Parliament is much more than a political institution given its Constitutional mandate. "But there seems to be scant respect for the Constitution and the sanctity of Parliament. It's very unfortunate."
The RS Chairman said disruptions do not go well with the moment of 75 years of Independence and asked MPs not to be party to the lowering the country's standing on the democratic world stage.
Earlier, while moving the motion, Muraleedharan said, "I move that Dr Santanu Sen, AITC, be suspended from the services of the house for the remaining part of the current session for his unruly behaviour, unbecoming of a member of the Rajya Sabha yesterday July 22, 2021, by snatching the copy of the statement from the minister...., tearing and throwing it towards the chair, thereby bringing disrepute to this august house."
The TMC members protested with Sukhendu Sekhar Ray raising objection to the manner in which the motion was brought without listing it in the day's business.
"The motion is not part of the list of the business. We did not have any opportunity to react to that. We were quite unaware that the government is moving such a motion. It was not included in the list," he said.
Other TMC MPs raised the issue of Sen being allegedly threatened by a minister, but the chairman said it happened after the House was adjourned.
Naidu said he has taken note of what happened in the House and the issue raised by the TMC members was not brought to his notice and he read about it in media today.
Sen had snatched papers from Vaishnaw in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, tore and flung those at the Chair, as the Pegasus snooping row turned ugly. The TMC MP later accused Union minister Hardeep Puri of verbally threatening and abusing him inside the House after it was adjourned.