Mahua questions Ethics Committee’s criminal jurisdiction in ‘cash-for-query’ allegationtext_fields
New Delhi: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, who is facing the Parliament's Ethics Committee’s scrutiny over allegations of taking bribes for asking questions in the Lok Sabha, has questioned the Ethics Committee’s authority to examine allegations of criminality in the ongoing cash-for-query controversy.
Moitra, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP released a prepared response ahead of her scheduled appearance before the committee tomorrow. She asserted that the committee lacked the power to investigate criminal allegations and accused it of releasing her summons to the media prematurely.
In a letter addressed to committee chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar, Moitra claimed that the absence of such powers was intentionally maintained by the nation's founders to prevent potential misuse by a government with a brute majority in parliament.
She emphasized that parliamentary committees do not possess criminal jurisdiction and urged the committee to recognize its limitations, stating that allegations of criminality should be addressed by law enforcement agencies.
Moitra reiterated her demand to cross-examine businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who accused her of accepting questions from him to be raised in parliament. The revelation that Hiranandani used Moitra's parliamentary login ID and password to post questions from Dubai could potentially lead to a breach of privilege and suspension from parliament if proven.
The MP also criticized the ethics committee for not formulating a code of conduct for members and claimed that it had not held any sittings in the past two years. She urged the committee to approach each case objectively and fairly due to the lack of a structured code of conduct.
The cash-for-query controversy took a legal turn as Supreme Court Lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, who filed the initial complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was cross-examined by the Ethics Committee on October 26. BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who raised the allegations against Moitra, was allowed to explain his claims.
The Ethics Committee is expected to submit its report to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla "as early as possible," drawing parallels with the swift action taken in the infamous cash-for-questions scam in 2005 during the United Progressive Alliance's tenure.