M A I N   N E W S

BJP for adopting ‘proper procedures’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
Asserting that it was in favour of stern action against MPs caught demanding money for raising questions in Parliament in a television expose, the BJP said it would oppose the expulsion of 10 Lok Sabha Members as recommended by the House Committee, which probed the scam, if “proper procedures” were not followed.

“We are in favour of stern action against the guilty but the punishment has to be according to law and procedures. It should not set a wrong precedent nor should any room be left for judicial intervention,” BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman V.K. Malhotra told newspersons here.

Mr Malhotra said in the absence of any Supreme Court judgement on the matter, even the judiciary was divided on the issue with the Punjab and Haryana High Court holding that expulsion was not possible (in the Haridwari Lal case) and the Madhya Pradesh Court ruling otherwise.

He said while the Privileges Committee of the Lok Sabha was empowered to recommend their expulsion, it gave the MPs the right to self-defence including cross-examination and the examination of evidence.

“In accordance with the principles of natural justice, either the matter should be referred to the Privileges Committee or the Bansal Committee should adopt the rules and procedures of the Privileges Committee. If they don’t do, we will oppose any motion to expel them”, he said.

Citing precedents, the BJP spokesman said both in the case of Indira Gandhi and H.G. Mudgal, the procedure took about five to six months to complete.

Denying that the party had initially adopted a tough posture and was now backtracking, he said, “we would have had no problems if they were reprimanded or suspended but expelling them without giving a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves would be unfair”.

Mr Malhotra recalled that in their depositions before the Bansal Committee, all the accused MPs had sought time, wanted to bring along their Advocates, cross-examine witnesses and examine evidences as they had alleged that the tapes were “doctored”.

“They were not given a chance. They were given only 15 minutes to defend themselves and a judgement is pronounced in three days. Even if a man is caught red-handed on television committing murder, he cannot be summarily hanged. The due process of law has to be followed”, he said.

The BJP has also issued a whip to all its MPs to be present in the House “to meet any eventuality”, party sources said.

They also claimed that there was an “initial understanding” with the government on “deferring” the matter till the next session but the Congress was now “backtracking” under pressure from the Left parties.

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