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Rajesh Bhagwan Suspended for Defying Speaker’s Request



Rajesh Bhagwan Suspended for Defying Speaker's Request
Image source: l'Express

Mauritius Movement Militant (MMM) MP Rajesh Bhagwan has been suspended for five consecutive sessions by Speaker Sooroojdev Phokeer. The sanction was issued on Friday, July 5, after the Speaker requested Bhagwan to apologize for his comments made during a press conference earlier that week.

During the conference, Bhagwan allegedly made inflammatory remarks, saying: “Why does the Speaker behave this way…he is reacting as a political agent, advocating MSM politics… Pravind Jugnauth is ordering him around.” He not only refused to apologize but also stood by his words.

The Speaker deemed Bhagwan’s comments as an attack on his integrity and the dignity of the House, citing Standing Order 74, which deals with the privileges of MPs.

However, a parliamentary specialist has questioned the legality of the suspension, pointing out that the Speaker failed to specify which standing order he was relying on.

The specialist also emphasized that the Standing Orders only apply to parliamentary proceedings and that Bhagwan’s comments were made outside the Parliament.

He suggested that the Speaker should have followed the correct procedure, involving the filing a written complaint and then submitting a motion to the House for further action.

According to Standing Order 74, if a MP is accused of breaching the privileges of the House, another MP must submit a written complaint to the Speaker.

The Speaker can then propose a motion to the House for further action. In this case, however, Phokeer did not specify whether a written complaint had been filed or what procedure he followed.

This is not the first time Speaker Sooroojdev Phokeer has been criticized for his handling of parliamentary matters.

Opposition MP Shakeel Mohamed has accused him of misinterpreting the Standing Orders and overstepping his powers.

Mohamed himself faced a similar situation in the past when he was investigated for allegedly defaming former Speaker Maya Hanoomanjee.

The Central Criminal Investigation Department had even summoned Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, then Deputy Speaker, for questioning.

Mohamed argued that Bhagwan’s suspension is unjustified and that Phokeer should have referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police for investigation.

“Phokeer has no right to sanction a member for statements made outside Parliament,” Mohamed said.

“He should have referred it to the DPP and police and let them investigate.”

An ex-Speaker defended Phokeer’s actions, stating that any citizen, including a Speaker, has the right to be protected against defamation or hurtful comments if they cannot be justified.

“A speaker has a right to be protected from defamatory statements made against him,” he said.

“The Standing Orders are there to protect members of Parliament from being defamed.”

However, Mohamed disagreed with this interpretation. “Our Speaker is misinterpreting the Standing Orders,” he said.

“In England, there have been amendments to the Standing Orders to allow speakers to sanction MPs for their actions outside Parliament, but this is not the case in Mauritius.”

Bhagwan remained defiant, maintaining his original stance and refusing to apologize for his comments.

“I will not apologize for what I said,” he said.

Source: l’Express

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