Mahua Moitra expelled from Lok Sabha: What next for TMC leader? Options before her
Mahua Moitra expelled: Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary said Mahua Moitra has the option of challenging the expulsion in the Supreme Court.
Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress was expelled on Friday from the Lok Sabha after the House adopted the report of its ethics committee that found her guilty of accepting gifts and illegal gratification from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to further his interest.
The committee report found Moitra guilty of "unethical conduct" and contempt of the House by sharing her Lok Sabha credentials – user ID and password of Lok Sabha Member's Portal, with unauthorised persons which had an irrepressible impact on national security, Joshi said.
“The serious misdemeanours on the part of Smt Mahua Moitra calls for severe punishment. The Committee, therefore, recommend that Smt Mahua Moitra, MP may be expelled from the membership of the 17th Lok Sabha. In view of highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal conduct of Smt. Mahua Moitra, the Committee recommend for an intense, legal, institutional inquiry by the Government of India in a time-bound manner,” the panel report said.
It said that a “threadbare examination” had established, beyond doubt, that Moitra had “deliberately” shared her Lok Sabha login credentials with businessman Darshan Hiranandani. “Therefore, Smt Mahua Moitra is guilty of unethical conduct, breach of her privileges available to members of Parliament and contempt of the House.”
Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary said Moitra has the option of challenging the expulsion in the Supreme Court. “Normally, House proceedings cannot be challenged on the ground of procedural irregularity. Article 122 of the Constitution is clear. It gives immunity to the proceedings from a challenge from court,” Achary told The Indian Express.
According to Article 122, “the validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called (into) question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure”. It states that “no officer or Member of Parliament in whom powers are vested by or under this Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order, in Parliament shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers”.
Achary, however, said the Supreme Court said in the 2007 Raja Ram Pal case that “those restrictions are only for procedural irregularities. There may be other cases where judicial review may be necessary.”
India Today reported that Moitra can file an appeal against the committee's decision in the Supreme Court or the high court based on the grounds of natural justice and principles of fair hearing.
Moitra could also challenge the jurisdiction and conduct of the ethics committee, it reported. She could argue that the panel overstepped its mandate, that the proceedings were irregular.
The expelled TMC MP could also approach senior Parliament or government officials through her party or independent avenues, alleging bias, prejudice or any sort of malfeasance in the committee's proceedings, India Today added.
The motion moved by Joshi said that Moitra’s "conduct has further been found to be unbecoming as a member of parliament for accepting gifts and illegal gratification from a businessman to further his interest which is a serious misdemeanour and highly deplorable conduct" on her part.
Om Birla cites 2005 case
Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi moved a motion to expel Moitra for "unethical conduct", which was adopted by a voice vote.
Joshi urged the House to accept the recommendation and finding of the panel and "resolve that continuance of Mahua Moitra as member of Lok Sabha is untenable and she may be expelled from the membership of the Lok Sabha".
Trinamool Congress and other opposition members demanded that Moitra be allowed to put her views in the House, which was turned down by Speaker Om Birla citing past precedence.
Birla observed that in 2005, the then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had in a directive disallowed 10 Lok Sabha members, who were involved in a 'cash for questions' scam, to speak in the House.
Joshi said in 2005 the then Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee had moved a motion to expel 10 members on the same day the report was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Earlier, ethics committee chairman Vinod Kumar Sonkar tabled the first report of the Committee on the complaint filed by BJP member Nishikant Dubey against Moitra.
(With inputs from PTI)
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