In his letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Chowdhury referred to the action purportedly referred to by the Lok Sabha Ethics Panel against Moitra as “extremely serious punishment” that has “very wide ramifications”.He said Birla must re-examine the rules and processes followed by parliamentary committees while dealing with matters concerning the interests and rights of MPs.
At the all-party meeting called by the government on Saturday, TMC leaders Sudip Bandopadhyay (Lok Sabha) and Derek O’ Brien (Rajya Sabha) questioned how the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee‘s report “recommending” Mahua’s expulsion had been made public “brazenly” before being tabled in the House.
Cash-for-query: Ethics Panel to table report in Lok Sabha seeking expulsion of TMC’s Mahua Moitra
The House is slated to take up the report on the opening day of the session and the two TMC leaders sought a discussion on the issue before the report is tabled.
Demanding that no “injustice” be done to Moitra, Chowdhury pointed out that there is no clear definition of what qualifies as “unethical conduct” by MPs and that a formal ‘Code of Conduct’ for MPs in LS does not exist. He said: “Expulsion from Parliament, you will agree is an extremely serious punishment and has very wide ramifications.”
The Congress leader was also not sure whether procedure had been followed and money trail established in the case against Moitra. The procedure followed left some “grey areas”, he added.
Citing past records of the ethics committee, Adhir said the House panel had previously dealt with only a few cases where punitive action recommended was limited to admonition, reprimand or a short suspension from its sittings.
Accusing the panel of flouting the rules of confidentiality & passing “judgement” when investigations by the committee – such as depositions by businessman Darshan Hiranandani for his claims of paying Moitra for asking questions on his behalf – were still not complete, Chowdhury emphasised the need for Speaker’s intervention to “processes relating to jurisdiction & procedures followed” and to take “remedial measures… towards streamlining of the functioning”.