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2005 cash-for-query scam: What was the scandal for which 11 former MPs face trial?

A 2005 sting operation by Cobrapost had shown 11 MPs taking money to raise questions in Parliament.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2017 14:55 IST
HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times
Cash for query,Cash for query scam,Cash for questions
The cash-for-query scam refers to a sting operation in 2005 which showed 11 memebers of Parliament accepting cash to ask specific questions in the Parliament. (Shutterstock/For Representation)

A Delhi court on Thursday put 11 former members of Parliament on trial for the 2005 cash-for-query scam.

Special Judge Kiran Bansal framed graft and criminal conspiracy charges against the MPs. The trial will begin from January 12.

Here’s a look at how the cash-for-query scam came to light in 2005:

A sting operation by online news site Cobrapost that aired on a private TV channel on December 12, 2005, showed the 11 MPs accepting cash in exchange for raising questions in the Parliament.

Out of the 11 MPs accused in the case, six were from the BJP, three from BSP, and one each from the RJD and Congress. They were Y G Mahajan (BJP), Chhatarpal Singh Lodha (BJP), Anna Saheb M K Patil (BJP), Manoj Kumar (RJD), Chandra Pratap Singh (BJP), Ram Sewak Singh (Congress), Narender Kumar Kushwaha (BSP), Pradeep Gandhi (BJP), Suresh Chandel (BJP), Lal Chandra Kol (BSP) and Raja Rampal (BSP).

The Lok Sabha expelled 10 members, while Lodha, who was the sole Rajya Sabha member, was also expelled.

On December 24, 2005, the Parliament voted to expel the 11 MPs in a historic vote. Pranab Mukherjee , the leader of the house at the time, introduced a resolution asking for expulsion of the members while then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did the same in Rajya Sabha.

While all parties had clamoured for action against the accused MPs, the BJP walked out of the vote saying it was a ‘kangaroo court’. BJP senior leader LK Advani, who was leader of the Opposition at the time, said that while what the MPs had done was corruption, but “more than that it was stupidity” and the punishment of expulsion was too harsh.

In January 2007, a Supreme Court verdict upheld the Parliament’s decision to expel the MPs. The MPs had filed a petition challenging their expulsion, which ignited a debate whether the court could interfere in Parliament procedures.

The Delhi High Court in 2007 directed the Delhi Police to book people involved in the offence. Two Cobrapost journalists, Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj, were also named in the chargesheet for abetting the offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, but the case against them was later quashed, with the court ruling that no one could be prosecuted for carrying out sting operations.

First Published: Dec 07, 2017 14:55 IST