New Delhi: In a five-page letter to a Parliamentary panel, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann on Thursday reiterated he did nothing wrong by filming high-security areas of Parliament but said he would nevertheless apologize if an inquiry panel finds he erred.
According to sources, Mann also said in his letter that other parliamentarians have done similar things and he would much rather the Lok Sabha Speaker closed the issue. The AAP MP is scheduled to appear before the inquiry committee on Thursday afternoon.
Mann last week filmed a video clip of his journey from his residence to Parliament House and shared it on social media. The video, showing various high security areas in Parliament, put the security of Parliament “in peril”, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said.
The APP MP also wrote that the so-called “breach” shown in the video, like the flight of stairs leading up to Parliament House, was readily available and broadcast by journalists, MPs and by Parliament itself, through its virtual tour on social media.
In the letter, Mann says it was never his intention to commit any act which would “compromise or jeopardise” the security and safety of Parliament House or its members.
“This was never my intention or objective and assuming for the sake of argument and without admitting that this has been the result of my act….I tender my humble and unconditional apology,” the letter says.
Sources said that the letter also cites previous instances of “breach of security” by parliamentarians that were ignored. For instance, in 2005, a BJP MP’s vehicle was found to be using a fake Parliament sticker.
In an earlier letter, Mann argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also be summoned by the panel for putting national security at risk by inviting Pakistan’s ISI to the Pathankot airbase.
On Monday, Mahajan set up a nine-member panel of parliamentarians to investigate whether Mann’s video had compromised security. The 9-member panel was told to submit its report by August 3. Mahajan also told Mann to not attend Parliament until the panel submits its report.
Last Friday, Mahajan summoned and admonished Mann. At the time too, he told the Speaker that he had filmed the video inadvertently” and had no intention of compromising the security of Parliament. The MP said that when he was coming to the House to attend Zero Hour he made the video “by mistake” as “I did not know that it is against the rules”.
“I apologise unconditionally. I will not repeat it in future,” Mann said in a letter he submitted to the Speaker on Friday.
After receiving his apology, LS Speaker Mahajan said it wasn’t enough, as the issue isn’t something that can be resolved with a “mere apology”. “Thirteen people have laid down their lives for the security of Parliament once. I know the matter is serious,” LS speaker Mahajan said last Friday. She added that she saw it as “grave misconduct” and said that it was “too serious” a matter considering that Parliament has been attacked by terrorists once.
Mann’s action is seen as violative of two specific rules of Parliament rules — 334(A) which ‘prohibits advance publicity’ and 352 which says ‘inter alia video/tape recording should not be done’.
Last Friday BJP MP Somaiya demanded Mann be disqualified as an MP, and his party colleague, RK Singh, a former home secretary, said the AAP member has put a question mark on the security of the sensitive complex. He demanded a breach of privilege motion be brought against Mann.
The Shiromani Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujaral said in the Rajya Sabha last week that the video is an “absolutely nonsensical act by the MP”.