For the second time in the last 10 days, a Delhi Assembly Committee meeting was thrown open for media coverage on Tuesday. Officials said the move has come after Delhi Speaker Ram Niwas Goel allowed media coverage of meetings, subject to the approval of the Committee Chairperson and depending upon individual cases. A Delhi government official said: “The meetings have been made open for media coverage, and thereby the general public. The last call, however, will be taken by the respective Committee Chairperson.”
On Tuesday, the proceedings of the Questions and References Committee was made public. The matter under discussion was a resolution passed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), restricting the corporation from using MLA funds for developmental purposes.
The meeting saw initiation of two contempt proceedings against the Commissioner, SDMC, and the Principal Secretary, Urban Local Bodies. The officials and the committee members sat almost two meters away on an oval table, and the committee members demanded the presence of the SDMC Commissioner, even adjourning the meeting for 20 minutes. The halt, however, lasted for more than an hour, as the confrontation became uglier.
The meeting was finally adjourned till next week, with an ultimatum to the missing officials to be present at the next appointment.
Officials said three meetings have taken place since December 3 but only two were made public. The Special Inquiry Committee set up to probe the alleged irregularities and corruption in bodies administering cricket and hockey in the national Capital was the first meeting that was made open to the public on December 3. The panel was to examine witnesses and gather evidence from various stakeholders.
The officials added this was being done on a pilot basis. “The set-up is currently being tested. Although, similar to worldwide scheme of things, discussions concerning national interest or safety of people will be kept confidential,” an official said.
Last year, Speaker Goel had set-up an independent committee to fix the salary and allowances of legislators. This is the first time that committee meetings have been made public in India, though the demand has been making rounds for quite some time. Experts claim this will end the bi-partisanship that marks committee proceedings. Previously in 2004, while the then Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee raised the issue, the proposal failed to get consensus and was dropped.