Rail Budget `leak`: RS chairman wants matter to be looked into

After Congress members cried foul over "leakage" of Railway Budget to media, Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari said the matter needs to be looked into to ascertain if norms of official secrecy were infringed upon but rejected Breach of Privilege notices.

PTI| Updated: Jul 11, 2014, 18:50 PM IST

New Delhi: After Congress members cried foul over "leakage" of Railway Budget to media, Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari on Friday said the matter needs to be looked into to ascertain if norms of official secrecy were infringed upon but rejected Breach of Privilege notices.

Amid ruckus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told the House that government will take action taking cue from what has been done in such instances earlier.

Ansari mentioned that he had received notices of Breach of Privilege from six members alleging leakage of Railway Budget. He said the matter was also raised by the members in the House on July 8, the day Railway Budget was presented.

Ansari said he examined the notices on the basis of the case, materials placed on record and the past precedents.

"It is a fact that some of the proposals of the Government which found place in the Railway Minister`s Budget Speech were indeed reported" by a newspaper in its issue of July 8, the day on which the budget was presented.
"It is unfortunate that contents of the Budget Speech of the Railway Minister were reported in the media. This needs to be looked into by the Government to to ascertain if norms of official secrecy were infringed," Ansari said.

He further said there are several instances in the past wherein the presiding officers have observed that the leakage of Budget proposal does not constitute a Breach of Privilege.

"I have no reasons to differ with these rulings of the past. Accordingly, I hold that these notices are not admissible," the Chairman said triggering uproar.

The opposition wanted to know what action the government was going to take in the unfortunate leakage.

Naidu told the House, "Government will respect advise and direction of the Chair. I will ask that the issue should be examined...I have been told that such instances took place earlier and we will see what action had been taken. Based on it action will be taken."

Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Cong) said the matter is very serious and wanted to know what action the government would be taking.

"The Chairman, based on available evidences has found that certain portions were leaked," he said, not heeding to Deputy Chairman P J Kurien`s pleas that "after Chairman`s ruling the issue is over."
Chaturvedi said it is up to the government as to how to deal with the matter and henceforth it should give the advance copy of the budget to newspaper for publication.

D Raja (CPI) said secrecy of the document has been compromised. Rajeev Shukla (Cong) said, "Certain points have appeared in the newspaper. Crime has been committed. This matter is serious. We need some kind of direction from the government."

V Maitreyan (AIADMK) said the matter is serious.

To all these, Kurien retorted, "How do you say that Minister has leaked, the Chair has not said that...Don`t attribute such kind of allegation".

The privilege notices were given by Madhusudan Mistry, V Hanumantha Rao, Shantaram Naik, Rajani Patil, Praveen Rashtrapal and Ashk Ali Tak.