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STORY IN SHORT 

The recent oath-taking ceremony in India's 18th Lok Sabha became controversial when Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP, included the slogan ‘Jai Palestine’ alongside his oath. This action has sparked a passionate debate, with the opposition BJP questioning its legality. 

Amidst suggestions from several leaders that the Hyderabad MP could face disqualification from Parliament, let's take a closer look at what the rule book actually says about this situation and explore the legal considerations surrounding his decision to include this slogan.

THE CONTROVERSIAL OATH 

  • As Owaisi went to take his oath, BJP MPs began chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram.’
  • Unfazed by the chants, Owaisi delivered his oath in Urdu, followed by a prayer and ending with the slogans “Jai Bheem, Jai Meem, Jai Telangana, Jai Palestine. Takbeer, Allah-u-Akbar.”
  • The treasury benches objected, leading to the Chair ordering that his remarks be expunged from the record.

IS HE GETTING DISQUALIFIED? 

Disqualification Criteria

As per Article 102-1 (d) in the Practice and Procedure of Parliament Book, Page 55, a member of the House may face disqualification if they demonstrate loyalty or adherence to a foreign state

Owaisi’s inclusion of the ‘Jai Palestine’ slogan during his oath could potentially be viewed in light of this criterion.

Owaisi’s Defence

Owaisi later defended his actions, asserting that there is no constitutional provision that prohibits him from saying ‘Jai Palestine.’ In the 2019 Lok Sabha, he concluded his oath with other slogans such as ‘Jai Bhim,’ ‘Allah-o-Akbar,’ and 'Jai Hind’. He maintains that his expression of solidarity with Palestine does not violate any constitutional norms.

LEGAL ANALYSIS 

1. Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of India does not explicitly prohibit MPs from expressing solidarity with other nations during their oath. However, it emphasizes loyalty  to the Indian Constitution and the nation. Owaisi’s slogan, while not violating any specific provision, raises questions about the spirit of allegiance.

2. Freedom of Speech and Expression

Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression. Owaisi’s slogan falls within this ambit. However, this right is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions. 

The question is whether Owaisi’s expression undermines the sovereignty or integrity of India.

REACTION FROM OPPOSITION: BJP’S CRITICISM                                 

  • Union Minister G Kishan Reddy criticized Owaisi’s slogan as “completely inappropriate” and contrary to constitutional principles. The BJP argues that Owaisi’s actions conflict with his oath taken in the name of the Constitution. 
  • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju stressed the importance of avoiding references to any country during parliamentary proceedings.
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