Friday, May 24, 2024

SC refuses to stay Mahua Moitra’s expulsion from Parliament, next hearing in March

Mahua Moitra

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 3: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Lok Sabha Secretary General on Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra’s plea challenging her expulsion from the Lower House last month. The Court has asked the official to file a reply within 3 weeks.
The top Court, however, refused to allow her to participate in Lok Sabha’s proceedings, remarking that allowing it would be like allowing the main petition.
A Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said it would hear TMC leader Mahua Moitra’s plea against her expulsion from Lok Sabha in the week commencing from March 11.
The top Court also refused to issue any notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Committee on Ethics of Lok Sabha ~ both were made a party by Moitra in her plea.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Lok Sabha Secretary General, requested the Court not to issue a formal notice and said that he would file a reply to Moitra’s petition. He added that the top Court should not venture into the internal matter of discipline in the sovereign organ of the state.
The Bench then passed the order and listed the matter for further hearing in the week starting March 11.
In October last year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey, on the basis of a complaint submitted by SC lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, alleged that Moitra had asked questions in the Lok Sabha in exchange for cash and gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to mount an attack on industrialist Gautam Adani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In an affidavit to the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha on October 19, last year, Hiranandani claimed that Moitra had provided him with her login ID and password for the Lok Sabha members’ website.
The ethics committee found Moitra guilty of “unethical conduct” and contempt of the House as she shared her Lok Sabha members’ portal credentials ~ user ID and password ~ with unauthorised people, “jeopardising national security”.
On December 8, after a heated debate in the Lok Sabha over the ethics committee’s report, during which Moitra was not allowed to speak, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved a motion to expel the TMC MP from the House for “unethical conduct”, which was adopted by a voice vote.
Following her expulsion, Moitra hit out at the ethics panel for “acting without proof” and said it was becoming a “weapon” to “bulldoze” the Opposition. She alleged that the Ethics Committee and its report “broke every rule in the book”.
Moitra has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed that she was being targeted as she had raised questions on the deals of the Adani group.
The ethics committee had also recommended a legal and institutional inquiry be initiated by the Government with a set deadline. The Central Bureau of Investigation has already filed a preliminary FIR in the case.
(TNIE with PTI inputs)