In light of the unauthorised-login and gifts-for-query case that has been brought against Mahua Moitra, the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha has reportedly recommended that she be expelled from the House of Representatives. This information comes from media reports. We do know, however, that the panel voted in favour of it by a score of 6-4, even though the particulars of her “expulsion” for “unethical conduct” and “serious misdemeanours” remain a closely guarded secret.
Moitra expresses her displeasure with what she refers to as the “leak” of the report to the press in an open letter that she sends to Speaker Om Birla. Five of the panel’s fifteen MPs have issued statements expressing their disagreement with the majority opinion and arguing that the panel is acting in an “illegal and unprecedented manner.” Obviously, the case presents yet another justification for contentious and even uncivil political discourse.
Granting Access to Hiranandani
But there is one thing that cannot be disputed. Moitra has admitted that she granted the Dubai-based businessman Darshan Hiranandani access to her parliamentary account. He is a member of the Hiranandani family. This violates the most fundamental principles of ethics. The fact that the Lok Sabha, in contrast to the Rajya Sabha, does not have a behaviour code for its members is the primary source of the larger problem.
The committee has presented a strong argument in favour of establishing ground rules. Since the year 2000, there have been ethical committees in the Lok Sabha, which is more than sufficient time to draft a law due to the passage of this amount of time. One of the lawmakers who submitted a dissent note was Danish Ali, who is a member of the BSP. Subsequently, the ethics commission in the Moitra report reprimanded him for “unruly conduct” as a result of his dissent note filing.
It is interesting to take note that the privileges committee has not yet rendered a decision on the matter of BJP MP and current Tonk poll-incharge Ramesh Bidhuri’s highly unparliamentary statements made against Ali.