Lok Sabha strips Mahua Moitra of MP status, citing unbecoming conducttext_fields
New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra has been expelled from the Lok Sabha today, following a damning report from the Ethics Committee stemming from 'cash for query' charges, accusing Moitra of accepting illegal gratification, including a staggering Rs 2 crore in cash and luxury gift items, from businessman Darshan Hiranandani.
The allegations further claim that Moitra surrendered her log-in credentials, allowing Hiranandani to post questions critical of the Narendra Modi government directly on the parliamentary website.
The Ethics Committee, after weeks of cross-examining parties involved, including Moitra and complainant lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, presented a 104-page report in parliament.
The report unequivocally stated that "allegations of accepting illegal gratification (are) established and are undeniable." It also deemed Moitra's acceptance of gifts from the businessman as a quid pro quo, labelling it as "unbecoming of an MP and unethical conduct."
The controversy triggered a furious row between the ruling BJP and the opposition, with heated debates and accusations flying in all directions. The tabling of the report led to a chaotic scene, forcing an adjournment until 2 pm when the motion to expel Moitra was presented.
The report urged the government to criminally investigate and unearth the 'money trail,' emphasizing its lack of expertise in this matter.
Moitra, a fiery critic of the Modi government, denied the bribery charges but admitted to sharing the log-in details. She had also pleaded that all MPs do not use their login credentials themselves and it is common practice to facilitate others doing it on their behalf.
Speaking outside parliament on Friday, she accused the parliamentary ethics committee of "breaking every rule" and expressed concern about potential harassment by investigative agencies, stating, "Tomorrow, the CBI will be sent to my home to harass me."
The Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to allow MPs sufficient time to delve into the contents of the lengthy report.
He proposed a timeframe of 3 to 4 days for members to go through the report before engaging in a discussion. Congress MP Manish Tewari supported this request, emphasizing the importance of allowing time for a thorough examination.
In response to the expulsion motion, Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee argued in the Lok Sabha that the House does not have the power to remove Mahua Moitra as its member. He highlighted the violation of principles of natural justice, stating, "The right of cross-examination is meaningful. Mahua Moitra has a right to cross-examine. This is a violation of principles of natural justice, implicit in Article 14 of the Constitution."
Congress MP Manish Tiwari, addressing the house, emphasized that they are convening not merely as parliamentarians but as a jury. He questioned whether the procedures of the ethics committee should take precedence over the fundamental principles of natural justice.
Tiwari stressed the significance of the discourse, connecting it to the broader issue of upholding democratic values and principles.