Underlining that all religions are equal before the Constitution, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Sunday said MPs should avoid making provocative statements about any religion and maintain the dignity and decorum of parliament at all times. Birla, who completes three years in office on Sunday, thanked leaders of all political parties for contributing to making his journey so far successful and said it was a big achievement that the House’s average productivity during the period has been above 100 percent.
The House has functioned for nearly 1,000 hours across eight sessions so far in the 17th Lok Sabha, he said. Terming discussions and debates as ”ornament of a democracy,” Birla told PTI in an interview that parliamentarians should avoid unnecessary aggression and shouting while speaking in parliament.
”Discussion and debate are crucial parts of parliamentary democracy. Sarcasm, and taking digs at each other are also acceptable during debates. But unnecessary aggression, shouting, and interrupting each other should be avoided by MPs in parliament,” Birla said.
He further said parliament should not be used as a platform to make baseless allegations and counter-allegations by political leaders. On the question of heated debates among politicians these days on religions, Birla suggested members of parliaments should refrain from making provocative statements against any religion as all religions are equal before the Constitution. ”While speaking on religious issues MPs should keep in mind that their statements do not hurt the feelings and sentiments of any other religion. We all should diligently follow this practice and convention. Our Constitution gives everyone the right to practice their religion,” Birla said. Asserting that parliament functions according to the Constitution, Birla said, ”Provocative remarks against any religion should not be made in parliament. Its dignity and decorum should be maintained all the time.” Asked about Facebook whistle-blower Sophie Zhang expressing her desire to depose before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT but not being asked by the authorities here to appear, Birla said there are rules and regulations in place to call someone to depose before a parliamentary panel.
”It is not appropriate that someone says ‘I have not been called by the committee. There are systems and procedures to call someone before the parliamentary panel. And the final decision lies with the Lok Sabha speaker,” Birla said. Talking about the new parliament building being built under the central vista project, Birla said he is confident that the Winter Session this year would be held in the new structure. ”The work on the new building is going on in full swing. It will show glimpses of both modern India and our rich history. It will display the culture of all states of India,” Birla said.
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