Tharoor, Meenakshi Lekhi in serious spat over stand-up comedian’s tweets

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 20, 2020

Meenakshi Lekhi   -  K.V.S. Giri

While Shashi Tharoor heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology and Lekhi heads a special Joint Committee on the Data Protection Bill

While Cong MP says Lekhi has overstepped her brief by questioning Twitter, the BJP MP says she has not broken any rule

Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh on Friday wondered whether a parliamentary panel headed by the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi had extended its brief by grilling social media giant twitter about comedian Kunal Kamra’s objectionable tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge.

The Joint Committee on Data Protection Bill, 2019, chaired by Lekhi had demanded an explanation from Twitter on Thursday about why it did not remove stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra’s tweets on India’s top court and judge.

The panel asked Twitter to submit a reply with a week.

Tharoor heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology and Lekhi heads a special Joint Committee on the Data Protection Bill, which has been preparing a draft Bill for some time. According to Tharoor, Lekhi had overstepped her mandate by grilling Twitter on issues other than those required for the purpose of preparing the draft for Data Protection Bill.

“Dear @M_Lekhi, as far as I am aware, your Committee was formed for consultations on the Data Protection Bill and its mandate is to report on the statutory provisions continued in the draft Bill. Could you clarify if you have taken on additional responsibilities and on whose authority?” Tharoor tweeted.

He also went on to comment on a quip by another BJP MP, Nishikant Dubey, that he needed some “tutorials” on the mandate of parliamentary committees. He said the Joint Committee on Data Protection Bill is a specific committee which does not have the mandate to go into extraneous issues of content on the microblogging site. “…Some people do need “tutorials” on the mandate of special committees formed to discuss specific Bills. The Joint Committee is to discuss the provisions of a draft Data Protection Bill and report thereon. Parliament has not been informed of an expansion of its mandate beyond this task,” said Tharoor.

He was joined by his colleague Jairam Ramesh, who is a member of the Lekhi-led panel, who said, “I could not attend the meeting today but had I been there I would have raised this very issue Shashi Tharoor. It is not the first time this has happened.”

Lekhi hits back

Lekhi responded by quoting another Congress MP Vivek Tankha who had apparently joined her in demanding Twitter’s explanation on the issue of Kamra’s tweets. Retweeting Tankha’s tweet in which he said that he agreed with her, Lekhi said, “Travesty that I have to respond to people who are busy exhibiting their lack of understanding. I refuse to run law tutorials specifically when a senior advocate from the Congress party Vivek Tankha was present in the Committee and has already concurred with me.”

Published on November 20, 2020

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