TMC MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha; Opposition terms it 'black chapter' : The Tribune India

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TMC MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha; Opposition terms it 'black chapter'

Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha had recommended Moitra's expulsion from the House in 'cash-for-query' matter

TMC MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha; Opposition terms it 'black chapter'

Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra in Parliament on Friday. PTI



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, December 8

The Lok Sabha on Friday expelled Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra from the House after the Ethics Committee found her guilty of “cash-for-query’ allegations and of conduct unbecoming of an MP by way of accepting gratifications in lieu of questions which she allowed AB Industralist to ask using her Parliament ID and login.

The motion on expulsion of Mahua (following acceptance of the panel report that declared Moitra guilty of BJP member Nishikant Dubey’s October 15 allegations of cash for query) was carried by a voice vote amid an Opposition boycott.

All INDIA block parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool, walked out.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi walked beside Moitra after she was expelled signalling solidarity with her.

The motion for expulsion of Moitra was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi after Congress leader Manish Tewari termed the action against all principles of natural justice and BJP MPs Heena Gawit and Aprajita Sarangi said the issue was of parliamentary dignity and constitutional morality.

“I urge every MP to put hands to their hearts and say whether what Mahua Moitra did was right or wrong,” Sarangi, member of the ethics panel said, adding that Moitra was rude in three meetings that were held and did not honour her right to be heard through the panel wanted to hear her.

Sarangi was responding to Tewari who said the action was against natural justice as Moitra had not been heard in the House.

Tewari also urged the whips issued by patties to be withdrawn as the House was acting like a jury to decide the fate of an MP and whip amounted to asking the judge to rule in a certain way.

Tewari also said the panel could only hold Mahua guilty but not punish her as per rules.

The House has the power to punish, he said, adding that an MP had privileges under the Constitution and the Supreme Court had also held that an MP can’t be questioned in any court for things said and done in Parliament.

Although TMC leaders Sudeep Bandopadhyay and Kalyan Banerjee urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to let Mahua speak, he cited precedence of Somnath Chaterjee to say that even in 2005 when ten MPs were expelled for taking cash to ask questions they were not allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha.

“Then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee ruled that the depositions had already happened in the Parliamentary Committee and the MPs had no right to speak in the House. We have a convention or honouring past precedence,” said Birla.

Earlier, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury objected to inadequate time given to MPs to read the report of the ethics panel presented at noon today.

“The report was submitted at 12 and discussion on it scheduled at 2 PM. The report has 495 pages with annexures and no one could humanly read in in such little time,” Chowdhury said.

He termed the developments a “black chapter”, with minister Joshi countering saying it was Mahua Moitra’s conduct that her blackened democracy and the house was seeking to correct that.

TMC leaders said the ethics panel relied on the affidavit of industralist Darshan Hiranandani and the complaint of Jai Anant Dehadrai but did not examine them.

You can’t hold anyone guilty on mere affidavits, Kalyan Banerjee said.

Moitra later said the complaint Dehadrai was her estranged partner with vested interests against her.

“I have been held guilty of violating a code of ethics that does not exist and for doing what is acceptable and routine and encouraged in Lok Sabha,” she said later, adding that the punishment sought to force her into submission.

The BJP, meanwhile, said Moitra didn’t deny sharing her login with an industrialist and this was a serious breach of trust.

The Speaker, meanwhile, took exception to JDU member Girdhar Yadav who said he never asked questions himself and always had his assistant ask on his behalf.

“I don’t even know how to operate the computer,” Yadav said, inviting a reprimand from Birla who said he could face severe action for saying that he let others ask questions in Parliament on his behalf.

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