Regulate sting operations, says ethics panel
New Delhi, December 23
The committee, headed by Dr Karan Singh of the Congress, also favoured action against those who acted as “conduits” in murky deals.
While recommending the maximum punishment against the erring member (Mr Lodha), the committee said, “Perhaps the time has come for Parliament to consider the broad question of regulating such under-cover operations, which necessarily involve expenditure of large sums of money by the agencies concerned, and also an intrusion into individuals’ privacy.”
It also virtually suggested banning such sting operations saying, “In some countries such operations are illegal under the law.”
It also recommended appropriate action against corrupt middlemen, private secretaries/personal assistants of members, officials working in the Parliamentary Party Offices, who have been instrumental in arranging the meetings of undercover reporters with MPs.
“Their misdeeds not only infringe the law prima facie but have the potential to wreck the system from within,” it said suggesting that after taking legal advice, the concerned authorities may proceed against them under the law, so as to stem the rot.
The committee also questioned the methodology adopted by the producer of the sting operation and the broadcaster in airing the expose.
The committee, which found Mr Lodha’s conduct derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the code of conduct which has been adopted by the House, pointed out that, “In Rule 295 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, the procedure for making a complaint regarding alleged unethical behaviour or breach of the Code of Conduct by a member or alleged incorrect information of a member’s interest, is clearly laid out.”
“The institution of the Committee on Ethics of the Rajya Sabha, the first of its kind in the country, is a self regulatory watchdog body whose jurisdiction can be invoked by anyone who has a complaint against an MP,” the committee said.
The committee’s report had an additional note from Ms Swaraj, which she maintained was not a dissent note but only her observations with a suggestion.