Jammu: Former Army Chief VK Singh on Wednesday failed to appear for the second time in two weeks before the privileges committee of the upper house of Jammu and Kashmir assembly with the ruling National Conference demanding that a non-bailable warrant be slapped on him.
The ruling party and the Congress sparred over the legality of the committee itself. Singh was asked to appear before the committee after he alleged during a television interview that Army was paying money to politicians in Jammu and Kashmir.
As five of the six-member committee of the Legislative Council met here this morning, its chairman Jugal Kishore was informed by Panthers` Party chief Bhim Singh that the former Army Chief would make himself available before the Committee by January 26.
At this stage, National Conference`s Legislative Council member Davinder Rana demanded that Bhim Singh should record his statement that the former Army Chief would make himself available before the Committee.
Ravinder Sharma of Congress questioned the legality of the Committee, saying that as per law it should not be more than five members but was told thaty under the rules it was the prerogative of the Chairman of the Council to have any number of MLCs in the Committee.
Sharma, a close confidant of Pradesh Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz, was also asked as to why was he questioning the Committee`s legality after being a member for the last one year.
However, Jugal Kishore of Congress referred the matter to the Chairman of the Council Amrit Malhotra to decide whether the privileges committee was legal or illegal.
NC members led by Rana staged a walkout from the proceedings in protest and demanded issuance of non-bailable warrant against Gen Singh for non-appearance.
Speaker Mubarak Gul has referred breach of privilege notice against Singh along with reply received from him to the committee for further examination, probe and report, Special Secretary and assembly spokesperson N R Singh said here.
Briefing on today`s development, Rana said the Chairman of the privileges committee preferred to refer the matter to the Council Chairman for clarification about the legality of the Committee.
"I and my colleagues walked out of the meeting. We sought non-bailable warrant for Gen V K Singh to present him before the House," Rana said.
Lashing out at Congress, he said, "the committee was in operation for last over one year. Why has Ravinder Sharma (Congress) suddenly found it illegal? We will discuss the matter in the Party (NC) and chalk out further course of action."
On December 9 the committee had asked Singh to appear in person before it on January 9 to explain his position on allegations that politicians in the state were paid by the army.
Singh did not appear, forcing the committee to issue second summons for his appearance before the panel today but he failed to appear again.
The privilege motion against Singh was moved by MLCs Ajay Sadhotra, Rana and Khalid Najeeb Suhrawardy in the last session of the Council taking cognisance of his allegations.