Congress MP Adhir Ranjan demands review of committee report on Mahua Moitra’s expulsion

In the backdrop of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee’s recommendation of expulsion of Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra in the “cash-for-query” case, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, urging a comprehensive review. Parliamentary committee procedures “relate primarily to the rights of members” of the House.

The Ethics Committee, headed by Vinod Kumar Sonkar, adopted the report during a meeting on November 9, with six members supporting Moitra’s removal and four opposition members submitting dissenting notes. This report will be presented in the Lower House of Parliament on Monday, the opening day of the winter session.

Choudhury’s letter emphasizes concerns regarding the scrutiny and transparency of Ethics Committee proceedings, highlighting potential ambiguities in the roles of prerogatives and ethics committees, and the absence of clear guidelines for punitive powers.

The MP also raised questions on the unprecedented recommendation of expulsion, citing its seriousness and far-reaching impact.

He said, “Expulsion from Parliament, you will agree sir, is a very serious punishment and has very wide-ranging implications.”

The letter highlights procedural differences between the Mahua Moitra case and previous instances, particularly the “cash-for-query” scam of 2005, where a sting operation led to the expulsion of members.
Chaudhary questioned whether the established procedure was followed and whether any conclusive money trail was established in Moitra’s case.

The Ethics Committee had initiated the probe based on allegations made by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had accused Moitra of asking questions in the Lok Sabha to target the Adani Group at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani in return for gifts.

He claimed that lawyer Jai Ananth Dehadrai had provided him with evidence of the alleged bribery. The BJP MP and Dehradun had appeared before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, but not Hiranandani.

“It is also not clearly known why the businessman decided to move against the member despite clearly serving his own interests through asking questions using the login credentials,” Chaudhary said in the letter.

“The proceedings of the meetings of the Committee are strictly confidential and this rule is even more relevant to be strictly followed in the case of a Committee investigating an extremely serious as well as extremely sensitive matter.

Nevertheless, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee along with -The complaining members were openly expressing their views and giving judgments while the investigation of the case was going on and the work of drawing up findings and preparing reports was going on,” he added.