Thiruvananthapuram: Customs has ignored Speaker Sreeramakrishnan’s objections and issued another notice to his private secretary Ayyppan to present himself for questioning, this time with his home address.
Although Customs does not agree with the Speaker’s contention, it has taken the additional caution of sending the notice to Ayyappan’s home address, as it was argued that Speaker has absolute authority over the premises of the assembly and its secretariat.
The Customs commissioner was expected to send a formal reply to the assembly secretary, who had sent the communication asserting the Speaker’s authority over all things within the precincts of the assembly.
The letter would clarify that if at all any authorisation was required, it is only for the arrest of anyone within the premises and not for questioning.
Sreeramakrishnan addressed another press conference on Thursday, albeit as unconvincing as his previous presser, explaining that his objection was not meant to obstruct the investigation but to set the record straight.
He said the communication to Customs was meant to clarify the situation as per the rules of business. According to him, the rule 165, which covers the authority of the Speaker, does not mention that the requirement of prior permission applies only to the MLAs, as pointed out by Congress deputy legislative party leader K C Joseph.
The Speaker said he has no worries about the Customs investigations, but refused to add anything further to what he had said in his previous press conference. He said the news reports that keep appearing about his connections with the Swapna Suresh and the clandestine operations were not correct and promised to quit public life if it can be proved that he has taken a bribe of even one rupee or done anything improper in his 40 years of political career.
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the Speaker, who was supposed to uphold the law, was misinterpreting the assembly rules to save his own face. Sreeramakrishnan’s attempt amounts to subverting the rule of law, he added.
He regretted that the Speaker and his office were obstructing the investigations in a deplorable case of havala and gold smuggling. He further asserted that the constitutional protection accorded to members of the assembly was not available to the staff.
He also cited a case in the 1970s of the then Speaker ruling that the arrest of certain government employees from the premises of the assembly in connection with an employees strike would not attract the provisions of the privilege rules.
The budget session of the assembly, which is convening on Friday, is set to see the opposition move a resolution calling for the removal of the Speaker for various charges of corruption and misconduct.