The Ethics Committee and moralitytext_fields
Parliament should be a model place for respectful and decent debates. And when it comes to the committees specially appointed by the Parliament are concerned, there is an increased responsibility to demonstrate a fair approach and respectful behaviour. And if it is the Ethics Committee that is associated with the morality of the House, then the country will expect the highest standard of behaviour and sense of justice. However, complaints have now been raised that both of these were violated during the meeting of the Ethics Committee formed to examine the allegations against MP Mahua Moitra. Moitra; and a few opposition members of the panel have accused the Chairperson of approaching the matter with prejudice and also humiliating the female MP by asking undignified questions. When it reached a point where she could not bear it any more, she stormed out of the Committee meeting. Moitra, who had appeared to testify before the Committee, accused the Chairperson of infringing on her privacy and insulting womanhood. She had appeared before the panel to give her statement regarding the allegations that she had shared the login details of the Lok Sabha website with outsiders and also accepted bribes and favours in exchange for posting questions. While she admitted to sharing the Parliamentary login credentials, she denied taking money. Moitra argued that many MPs share their unique login accounts with outsiders to type and upload questions and that there was nothing in rules that barred it. She also claimed that she did not accept money for raising questions. Moitra stated that she had the opportunity to speak to the panel only after intervention from opposition members. She also mentioned that the Chairperson kept asking debasing questions that were not related to the matter.
Mahua Moitra is a Trinamool Congress leader and a member of the Lok Sabha known for her strong opinions. It was BJP leader Nishikant Dubey and Moitra’s estranged partner Jai Anand, who raised the allegations against her. The Ethics Committee, which has a BJP majority, is obliged to ensure that narrow political interests do not influence the inquiry. The members, especially the Chairperson, have the responsibility to ensure the credibility of the Committee and thereby the Parliamentary system. Moitra’s allegation is that the Chairperson asked irrelevant and disrespectful questions such as ‘How dear is the person you refer to as your 'dear friend'? Does his wife know about this? Can you provide details about the phone calls you made at midnight?' If these allegations are true, it can be said that the Chairperson has compromised his own dignity and credibility. Even when the opposite side points out Moitra’s ‘arrogant behaviour’, they don't deny these allegations. It was when the question 'with whom have you stayed and in which hotel' came from the Chairperson that the Opposition MPs stormed out of the meeting. If this is true, it has tarnished the reputation of the Parliament itself. Moitra has submitted her complaint to the Lok Sabha Speaker. The Chairman of the Ethics Committee will also give a report to the Speaker. The speaker can do much that is positive in this regard.
Restoring the dignity and credibility of Parliament in this matter is crucial. It's no secret that the BJP is targeting Mahua Moitra. There are complaints that the party has plans to get her expelled from the Lok Sabha, similar to what they did to Rahul Gandhi. And these schemes are believed to be behind the allegations against Moitra. Therefore, there should be an impartial and transparent investigation into the Ethics Committee procedures, without getting tied down by technicalities. It has been pointed out that denying Moitra's request to reschedule her appearance before the Committee, while having accommodated a BJP MP's request for a different date in another matter, was partiality. The Speaker should ensure that there is no room for such complaints. The Opposition says that asking tough questions about Adani and the relationship between Adani and the Prime Minister is the reason behind targeting Moitra, comparable to what happened with Rahul. While Moitra denies taking bribes in exchange for posting questions, she says that Adani and others had asked her to tone down the sharpness of her questions - this is also a very serious matter. The answer to these allegations is to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into the matter. Also, the government must demonstrate to the nation that there is no hindrance to questioning the high-level relationship with Adani. The accusation that the government has something to hide should be addressed by disclosing everything in a manner that leaves no room for misinterpretation.