Govt official apologises before House

James stages walk out in protest against procedure

SHILLONG: The Assembly on Thursday reprimanded senior State government official Zenithsky J. Sangma leading to his apology in the House but not before protest by NPP legislator James Sangma, who walked out of the House indicating that he was not party to the decision.
Zenithsky was found guilty of breach of privilege against Independent legislator John Leslee K. Sangma.
John’s complaint with the privilege committee was that the officer, who was the CEO of Tura Municipal Board, had falsely alleged in FIRs that the legislator instigated vegetable vendors of Tura Ringrey market.
The legislator was also aggrieved over the officer addressing him as “one person”.
The privilege committee, after several hearings,      had sought apology from the officer in the House, failing which, it had said, strong disciplinary action would be taken including termination of his service.
Before Assembly Speaker A.T Mondal took up the item on Thursday, James stood up and said, “On matter of principle I do not agree with the method of reprimanding the officer and I do not wish to be part of this proceeding. I would like to withdraw myself from the proceeding.”
James, however, was absent when the House on Monday unanimously decided to summon and reprimand the official after the matter was moved by privilege committee chairman Saleng Sangma.
The Assembly Speaker told James that he should have been there when the House on Monday adopted the report of the privilege committee against the officer. “Now we cannot re-open the debate,” Mondal said.
However, stating that he wanted the House to place on record his action, James walked out.
After the Marshal led the officer to the specially prepared dock in the Assembly, he was asked to bow down before the House and take oath of evidence.
Mondal then read out that the House has charged him guilty of breach of privilege.
In response, the officer said he openly and sincerely apologise to the Independent member, John Leslee Sangma, members of the privilege committee and members of the House.
Following this, the Speaker asked the House whether the case should be dropped or he should further proceed with the matter against the officer.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said this is for the first time that a government officer is being reprimanded since 1972-73.
“Let this very incident be a reason for all concerned to understand the power with which members are vested within the spirit of democracy,” Sangma said.
Speaking about his experience as the member of the privilege committee on a number of occasions in the past, Sangma said the incident was unprecedented.
“If an issue of breach of privilege is brought before the privilege committee, the people who were served with such notice always responded and this is the first instance after a long time,” the chief minister said.
According to Sangma, since the officer concerned apologised, “we should not further proceed and instead drop the case”.
The Speaker said the charges are dropped with approval from the House.
With this, the officer bowed his head to the Speaker’s chair and to the two sides of the House before leaving.

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