JS body may go for contempt move
The parliamentary committee on public undertakings sits today to decide the next course of action regarding the Anti-Corruption Commission's (ACC) refusal to allow it to scrutinise the anti-graft body's activities.
"If the anti-graft body does not appear before the committee, it will undermine parliament. Contempt of parliament proceedings might be initiated against them," committee Chairman Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said the committee itself might initiate the contempt proceedings or will report to the House for it.
The committee chief said former Indian premier Indira Gandhi, who obstructed a parliamentary probe into her son's business affairs, was arrested and jailed for a week in 1978 on charge of contempt of parliament. The Indian parliament also expelled her, Alamgir added.
Committee member Zainul Abdin Farroque told The Daily Star over telephone that the ACC misused its power in the last two years and it is not above parliamentary scrutiny.
"They will make a mistake if they do not attend today's meeting," said Farroque, also the opposition chief whip.
The ACC, which has questioned the committee's jurisdiction to examine its activities, did not send any documents sought by the committee till yesterday, said Parliament Secretariat officials working for the committee.
They said parliament has empowered all its committees to summon the witnesses to appear in person, examine their submission on oath and call for documents.
The rules of procedure have elaborated the committee's authority, the officials added.
Parliamentary affairs experts said the committee on public undertakings has the jurisdiction to oversee the ACC's activities. The anti-graft body's failure to attend the committee meeting would be tantamount to contempt of parliament.
On April 7, the committee in a letter asked the ACC to send the commission's latest annual report, latest audit report and documents on its activities and recent problems to it two days before the scheduled meeting with the commission high-ups.
But the next day, the ACC refused to appear before the parliamentary body with documents saying the summons is "beyond jurisdiction of the committee."
In defence, the ACC said the commission is fulfilling its accountability to the president by submitting its yearly report under section 29 of the ACC Act for placing before parliament.
Besides, it continuously submits proposals on prevention of corruption to the president in compliance with its duties as contemplated under section 17 of the act, said the commission.