Bengal speaker orders detention for Congress leader

Kolkata, Aug 27 (IANS) Reputed advocate and former Congress lawmaker Arunava Ghosh was Tuesday slapped with detention for a few hours in the state assembly for making derogatory remarks about Speaker Biman Banerjee.

Ghosh later said he would move the court against the sentence.

Ghosh was summoned to the bar of the house, where he stood as the speaker delivered his ruling sentencing him to detention.

"Anurava Ghosh has deliberately committed gross breach of privilege and contempt of house by casting deep aspersions on the character and impartiality of the speaker in discharge of his duties in running the house," Banerjee said, citing the report of the Committee of Privileges submitted to the house Monday.

"Anurava Ghosh is sentenced to detention till adjournment of this house," he said.

Ghosh made an effort to put forth his defence, but Banerjee did not allow him to speak and ordered a marshal to take the Congress leader away.

Angry over the sentence, Congress members rose from their seats, tore house papers and staged a noisy walk out. Later, they held a sit-in demonstration at the main gate of the assembly in protest against the decision.

Ghosh was pulled up for allegedly making some derogatory remarks about the speaker while participating in a panel discussion on a local television channel July 9, 2012.

He made the remarks after the speaker disallowed former legislators from entering the assembly premises to pay respects to late chief minister Jyoti Basu on his 99th birth anniversary.

Trinamool Congress leader and party chief whip Sovandeb Chattopadhyay had moved a privilege motion, saying the comments were "unconstitutional and derogatory".

The speaker issued summons to Ghosh on recommendations of the Committee of Privileges, asking him to appear at the bar of the house and accept the punishment.

Later, Ghosh told the media: "I am thankful to this government for punishing me. I have been punished for raising my voice of protest. But strangely enough, I was not told about the charges against me, and what the Committee of Privileges has said in its report. I was not given any chance to defend myself also."

"I shall move the court against the sentence," he said.

The assembly had witnessed a similar incident in 1999, when M.J. Akbar -- then editor-in-chief and managing director of English daily, The Asian Age -- was brought to the bar of the house, rebuked and sentenced to detention till the adjournment of the house for the day for allegedly distorting its proceedings.

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