Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha in cash-for-query case : The Tribune India

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Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha in cash-for-query case

Hung by kangaroo court, she says | Disgrace to democracy: Opposition

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha in cash-for-query case

TMC leader Mahua Moitra speaks to the media after her expulsion from the Lok Sabha over the cash-for-query issue in New Delhi on Friday. PTI



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, December 8

The Lok Sabha on Friday expelled opposition Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra after adopting the House ethics committee report that found her guilty of accepting cash for asking questions to benefit an industrialist friend.

15 MPs expelled from Parliament so far

  • Parliament has seen the expulsion of at least 15 MPs, including ex-PM Indira Gandhi, in past
  • 1951: In first case of expulsion, Cong’s HD Mudgal ousted over fiscal illegalities, insider trading
  • Dec 14, 1978: Indira expelled from the LS on a motion moved by then PM Morarji Desai
  • Dec 23, 2005: One RS, 10 LS MPs ousted over cash-for-query
  • Oct 2008: BJP MP Babubhai Katara expelled, was found guilty of human trafficking

ETHICS PANEL REPORT

  • Recommends that Moitra be expelled from the LS
  • Calls for a ‘legal institutional probe in view of her unethical, heinous, criminal conduct’
  • Further action referred to agencies having expertise to probe ‘money trail’
  • Holds her guilty of unethical conduct for sharing login ID
  • Says her conduct found to be unbecoming of an MP for accepting illegal gratification through gifts and other facilities from a businessman to further his interests

Vendetta politics

Unable to defeat us, BJP has resorted to vendetta. It’s sheer disgrace to democracy. — Mamata Banerjee, TMC

The report was based on an October 15 complaint by BJP’s Godda MP Nishikant Dubey, who levelled cash-for-query allegations against Moitra on the basis of submissions made by Delhi-based lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, her former partner.

The expulsion by a voice vote happened after an Opposition walkout and on a motion moved by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, who termed Moitra’s conduct “unbecoming of an MP” and said “it had national security consequences”. “It has become untenable for her to continue as a Lok Sabha MP,” the minister said while moving the motion after the LS adopted the committee report.

Krishnanagar MP Moitra slammed the action as being “hanged by a kangaroo court”, with her party chief Mamata Banerjee terming the developments a “disgrace to democracy and BJP’s vendetta politics”. Anti-BJP INDIA bloc partners led by Congress’ Sonia Gandhi stood united in the Lok Sabha today to defend Moitra and described the “harsh punishment against all principles of natural justice”. The AIMIM did not walk out. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Manish Tewari of the Congress and Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Kalyan Banerjee of the TMC demanded that Moitra be heard, a proposal Speaker Om Birla rejected citing a 2005 precedence when 10 Lok Sabha MPs were similarly expelled in a cash-for-query matter without being heard in the House.

Birla said his predecessor Somnath Chatterjee had at the time ruled that accused MPs had deposed before the committee, which probed the allegations and had been heard there.

Adhir questioned the lack of time to study the bulky nearly 500-page report, which was tabled at 12 noon with a discussion scheduled at 2 pm. “It was humanly impossible to read it in such a short time,” said Adhir, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha.

Tewari questioned the panel report saying it was “against all principles of natural justice” as Moitra was not allowed to cross-examine complainant Dehadrai and industrialist Darshan Hiranandani, the man who allegedly benefitted from her questions.

“Heavens would not have fallen had we discussed the report after some days,” Tewari said, adding that in a matter where the House was acting as a jury to decide the fate of an MP, party whips should not have been issued.

Whips are like directing a judge to act in a certain way, Tewari said, citing a Supreme Court judgment that says MP’s conduct for things said and done in Parliament could not be questioned in any court of law. “So how can it be questioned in this House,” asked the Anandpur Sahib MP.

JD(U)’s Giridhari Yadav, a member of the ethics committee, and Kalyan Banerjee both termed the panel report as “an eyewash” and said punishment could not be awarded merely on Hiranandani’s affidavit saying he gave expensive gifts to Moitra.

Both lamented the lack of cross-examination of the industrialist by the ethics panel and by Moitra. “You cannot rely on mere affidavits to punish anyone. Cross-examination is a must,” Banerjee said with BJP’s Heena Gavit attacking Moitra for “sullying the image of all MPs globally”.

Gavit cited ethics committee findings—40 of 61 questions Moitra asked related to businesses which Hiranandani ran; her account was accessed 47 times from Dubai; six times from the US, UK and Nepal; she accepted having shared her Parliament ID and password with Hiranandani—to say that Lok Sabha must make an example of her “unethical conduct”.

Aparajita Sarangi, ethics panel member from the BJP, said Moitra was rude in three meetings the panel held and used unparliamentary language. “We wanted to hear her but she walked out,” Sarangi said in defence of the report’s recommendations.

Moitra hits back

Hitting back, Mahua Moitra said, “The 17th Lok Sabha has seen the weaponisation of a parliamentary committee...The report has broken every rule in the book. You are finding me guilty of breaking a code of ethics that does not exist. The committee is punishing me for engaging in a practice that is routine, accepted and encouraged in the House. One of the complainants is my estranged partner with a mala fide intention who masqueraded as a common citizen before the ethics panel. The findings are based solely on the written testimonies of two private citizens whose versions contradict each other and none of whom I was allowed to cross-examine.”

Govt’s expulsion motion

This house having taken note of the ethics committee report on complaint given by Nishikant Dubey against Mahua Moitra wherein she has been found to be guilty of unethical conduct, and contempt of house for sharing her Lok Sabha credentials, i.e user ID and password of the Lok Sabha members’ portal with unauthorised persons and its irrepressible impact on national security, wherein her conduct has further been found to be unbecoming of an MP for accepting illegal gratification through gifts and other facilities from a businessman to further his interests which is a serious misdemeanour and highly deplorable conduct on her part accept above findings of the committee and resolve that continuance of Mahua Moitra as MP of LS is untenable and she may be expelled from membership of the Lok Sabha.

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#Congress #Democracy #Lok Sabha #Mahua Moitra #Trinamool Congress


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