Mahua Moitra approaches Supreme Court against expulsion from Lok Sabha | Latest News India

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Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra has approached the Supreme Court challenging her expulsion from the Lok Sabha claiming there was “substantial illegality” and “arbitrariness” in the conduct of the Parliament Ethics Committee and the subsequent House proceedings that found her guilty of jeopardising national security by sharing her parliamentary portal login credentials with her businessman “friend” Darshan Hiranandani.

Mahua Moitra. (File)
Mahua Moitra. (File)

In her petition filed on Saturday night, within 24 hours of the Lok Sabha accepting the Ethics Committee report on Friday, Moitra alleged that she was not allowed to present her defence in the House during discussion on the Ethics Committee findings.

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She was accused of taking bribes for raising questions in Parliament related to industrialist Gautam Adani in a complaint filed by her former friend and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai. These allegations were taken up by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey with the Speaker leading to the matter being referred to the Ethics panel, which questioned her and other witnesses in connection with the complaint.

In her petition filed through advocate Shadan Farasat, Moitra challenged the entire proceedings that took place before the Ethics Panel, saying the panel did not call Hiranandani and simply went by the allegations in the complaint that were supported by an affidavit filed by Hiranandani. She further alleged that the witnesses were not allowed to be cross-examined.

Moitra has rejected the allegations saying that she took no “cash” from Hiranandani. This fact was not gone into by the Ethics panel report which said it had no technical expertise or wherewithal to investigate the complaint and unearth the money trail. The committee, instead, recommended a time-bound probe by the Government of India on the cash transaction being part of the “quid pro quo” charge.

The legal team assisting Moitra wrote a mail to the Supreme Court registry seeking urgent orders from the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to list the matter at the earliest. The legal team, however, refused to share details of the petition, awaiting a decision of the Registry, as this is the last working week before the court closes for vacation.

The Opposition had on Friday rallied behind Moitra objecting to the haste with which the report was tabled in the House and discussions conducted giving no time for members to critically examine the Ethics Panel report running into 495 pages.

The outspoken Opposition MP had objected to the “inappropriate” questions put to her by the panel, which had recommended Moitra’s expulsion in November. It was only on Friday that the report was tabled in the Lok Sabha.

The panel was guided by the fact that the MP shared her parliamentary portal login with Hiranandani without going into the veracity of the charges. Moitra claimed that she had provided Hiranandani the login passwords to take help from his staff for typing her questions on the portal.

It was Dehadrai’s complaint that Moitra accepted bribes in form of “cash” and “gifts” from Hiranandani to ask questions on Adani Group, guided by business interests. He stated that out of the 61 questions raised by the MP in the Lok Sabha, 50 were related to Adani Group and this was done to further the agenda of Hiranandani. The ethics committee concluded, “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.”

The report further stated, “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.”

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