Congress MP seeks review of Ethics Committee processes after its report on Mahua | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Congress MP seeks review of Ethics Committee processes after its report on Mahua Moitra's expulsion

Dec 02, 2023 11:26 AM IST

The letter raises concerns about the transparency and scrutiny of the Ethics Committee's proceedings in the cash-for-query row involving TMC MP Mahua Moitra.

Against the backdrop of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee's recommendation for the expulsion of Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra in connection with a "cash-for-query" case, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, urging a comprehensive review of parliamentary committee processes “primarily concerned with the rights of members” of the House.

TMC lawmaker Mahua Moitra. (PTI)
TMC lawmaker Mahua Moitra. (PTI)

The Ethics Committee, chaired by Vinod Kumar Sonkar, adopted the report during a meeting on November 9, with six members supporting Moitra's expulsion and four opposition members submitting dissent notes. The report is scheduled to be tabled in the lower house of Parliament during the opening day of the Winter Session on Monday.

Chowdhury's letter emphasizes concerns regarding the scrutiny and transparency of the Ethics Committee's proceedings, highlighting potential ambiguities in the roles of the Privileges and Ethics Committees and the absence of clear guidelines for penal powers. The MP also questions the unprecedented recommendation of expulsion, citing its gravity and far-reaching implications.

“Expulsion from Parliament, you will agree Sir, is an extremely serious punishment and has very wide ramifications,” he said.

The letter delves into procedural differences between the Mahua Moitra case and past instances, particularly the 2005 "cash-for-query" scandal where a sting operation led to the expulsion of members. Chowdhury questioned whether the established procedure was followed and if a conclusive money trail was established in Moitra's case.

The Ethics Committee had initiated the investigation based on the allegations levelled by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had accused Moitra of asking questions in Lok Sabha to target the Adani Group at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani in exchange for gifts. He claimed that Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai had provided him with proof of alleged bribes. The BJP MP and Dehadrai had appeared before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, but not Hiranandani.

“It is also not clearly known as to why the Businessman chose to turn against the Member despite his interests apparently being served by way of posing questions by using the Log in credentials,” Chowdhury said in the letter.

"The proceedings of the Sittings of the Committee are strictly confidential with the rule being all the more relevant for strict adherence in case of a Committee investigating a very serious as well as extremely sensitive matter. Yet, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee as well as the Complainant Member were openly parading their views and passing judgments even while the matter was under investigation and formulation of the findings and framing the report was underway," he further noted.

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