Press Trust Of India May 24, 2006
New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday blasted the Election Commission for putting him on “trial” in the office-of-profit issue without evidence.
“From March 8 till today, I have got no notice (from the Commission). You give me a chance. I am being held guilty by trial of insinuation. Constitutional authority is permitting this insinuation to continue. This is not the way,” Chatterjee said in a press conference.
The commission had caused him “harassment”, as it put his name in a list of politicians who allegedly hold offices of profit. The list was posted on the commission’s website.
Chatterjee, who is chairperson of the Sriniketan Santiniketan Development Authority (SSDA), said he was "not imputing motives" to anyone but asserted that he was not holding any office of profit.
"I challenge anyone. I have held the (SSDA) post for 17 years. I will resign from all my positions, if anyone shows there is an office of profit", he said. If a post has no perks and salary other than compensatory allowance, it was not an office of profit.
Chatterjee said there was "not an iota of a case" against him and what was taking place was his character assassination. "Character assassination of not an individual but of the office of the Speaker." At one point, Chatterjee also spoke of "witch hunt".
Asked about the BJP’s plan to bring a no-confidence motion against him, Chatterjee said: "I have nothing to say. It is their right. If they want to move it, they can move it".
He disagreed with suggestions that he was responsible for a confrontation between the Treasury benches and the Opposition. He also emphasised that he had given more scope to Opposition to have their say, given the number of adjournment motions and other such instruments allowed by him.
"Perhaps, I am not a fit person," Chatterjee remarked when asked as to how he finds himself at the centre of a controversy as the Presiding Officer every three months.
He also brushed aside questions about impeachment of the Chief Election Commissioner. "I am not challenging their authority. I have not said about any motives. I am giving my humble views".