Speaker Jigme Zangpo has reprimanded Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji for violation of the National Assembly Act and the Rules of Procedure.

During the question hour on May 19, the agriculture minister referred to Trashiyangtse’s Bumdeling-Jamkhar MP Duphob as MP from Falakata, a small town in Alipurduar district of West Bengal, India.

When MP Duptho said that the ban on chillies caused inconveniences to vendors and consumers, the minister responded saying: “I didn’t know there was an MP from Falakata in the National Assembly until today.”

The MP had said that extending the ban on the import of chillies from Falakata appeared to be illogical as chillies are a seasonal crop and that chemical contents vary from time to time.

Following a written complaint from the Opposition, the Speaker yesterday handed the agriculture minister a letter of reprimand, copies of which have been submitted to Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, the Leader of Opposition and the Secretary General of the house.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji was also summoned to the Speaker’s office, where he was explained by the latter about the provisions under which he was reprimanded.

“Henceforth, please keep in mind not to repeat such behaviours,” the Speaker stated in the letter of reprimand, adding that the minister’s behaviour violated both the National Assembly Act and the Rules of Procedure.

The Speaker said that he has used the Speaker’s powers prescribed in the National Assembly Act and the Rules of Procedures. “If the Deputy Speaker had intervened, the matter would have been solved that time only,” he said.

The session was presided by Deputy Speaker Chimi Dorji.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo cited Section 273 of the National Assembly Act 2008, which states that every member should subscribe to maintaining the decorum and dignity of the House and shall desist from acts of defamation and use of physical force. He also cited Section 34.4(b) of the Rules of Procedures, which states that the Speaker shall preserve dignity and decorum in the hall and maintain discipline among the members.

MP Dupthob said the Opposition had actually demanded a public apology on the house floor from lyonpo Yeshey Dorji based on a precedent. Khamaed Lunana MP of Gasa, Pema Drukpa, in 2015 apologised to National Council members in a joint sitting after he accused them of siding with political parties.

“Based on the precedent set by the Khamaed Lunana MP, we had demanded a public apology on the house floor,” Dupthob said. However, the Speaker can also take a disciplinary decision of his own within the framework of parliamentary laws.

“Being satisfied or not is subjective. It’s about obeying the rules,” said Dupthob. “The Speaker as the head of Parliament has reprimanded the minister in writing.”

MB Subba