New Delhi: Deviating from normal practice, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after Question Hour on Friday as a mark of respect for former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, who died here this morning.
Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for the day soon after Question Hour when leaders of various parties urged that the House be adjourned to enable them visit the departed leader's residence to pay their last respects before his mortal remains were flown to Meghalaya.
Earlier, the Chairman posed questions before the House mentioning earlier instances of adjournment in such cases, saying the norm was to adjourn only when a sitting member of the Upper House passed away.
"We all have very great respect for Mr Sangma and his stature. He was a sitting member of the other House. Our practice in this House has been to adjourn when a sitting member passes away. We do it for a sitting member of this House."
"If we are going to deviate from it, is it a one-time deviation? Because only the other day, a few days back I read a reference from the Chair for a former Speaker of Lok Sabha, that is the late Dr Balram Jakhar. I don't want different practices to become the norm."
"Are we doing it as a very special gesture over and above our practice? If that is the sense of the House, then we will do it. In other words, we will not reconvene after lunch," he told the members after leaders of various parties, as also Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, suggested adjournment.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley suggested that in view of Sangma's demise in Delhi, a number of members would like to visit his residence and pay their last respects.
"I would suggest disposing of or postponing the post- lunch session as a mark of respect to him. He was an important leader of the country," he said suggesting a one-time departure.
He was seconded by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who said Sangma was "one of the tallest leaders in the recent past from the North East.
It would be appropriate to adjourn the House as a mark of respect for him."
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) also urged the Chairman to consider the request of both Jaitley and Azad and suggested rescheduling the private member's business to some other day.
Ansari said the original practice of adjourning the House was when the funeral of the sitting member was in Delhi.
"That was diluted over a period of years. I won't go into the details. There is a proposal which is pending before one committee or the other, that we should go back to the original practice, because the intent was to enable members to participate. I don't want different practices for different leaders," the Chairman said.
Earlier, when the House took up Question Hour, demands for adjournment were made.
But Ansari insisted that "we cannot make rules on the run" adding that according to the tradition, the House adjourns for a sitting member. He continued with the Question Hour.
Naqvi said Sangma was a tall leader and if the Chairman agreed, the House could be adjourned in his honour. Congress leader Rajeev Shukla also said that it would be appropriate if the House was adjourned. Some members also suggested that the sense of the House could be taken.
However, Ansari said different norms cannot be made and said questions would be asked as to why the House was not adjourned when former Speaker Balram Jakhar had passed away.
"The Chair will be asked straightaway, why did you not do it last week. You cannot make rules on the run. This is not fair," Ansari said as he proceeded with the Question Hour.