SC seeks LS secretary general's reply on Moitra's plea against expulsion

Moitra's plea to attend proceedings was not granted interim relief, with the court stating it would "consider it in March"

The court declined to issue notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Committee on Ethics, only seeking a reply from the Lok Sabha secretary-general.  (photo: National Herald archives)
The court declined to issue notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Committee on Ethics, only seeking a reply from the Lok Sabha secretary-general. (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 3 January sought a reply from the Lok Sabha secretary general on Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra's plea challenging her expulsion from the Lower House.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta refused to pass any order on an interim prayer of Moitra to let her attend the proceedings of the House, saying, allowing it would be like allowing the main petition.

"We will consider your plea for interim relief in March," Justice Khanna told Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Moitra.

The top court also refused to issue any notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Committee on Ethics of Lok Sabha -- both were made a party by Moitra in her plea -- and said it would only seek a reply from the Lok Sabha secretary general.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Lok Sabha secretary general, requested the court not to issue a formal notice and said that he would file a reply to Moitra's petition.

Mehta said the court should not venture into the internal matter of discipline in the sovereign organ of the state. The bench then passed the order and listed the matter for further hearing in the week starting 11 March.

On 8 December, after a heated debate in the Lok Sabha over the panel report, during which Moitra was not allowed to speak, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved a motion to expel the TMC MP from the House for "unethical conduct," which was adopted by a voice vote.

The ethics committee found Moitra guilty of "unethical conduct" and contempt of the House as she shared her Lok Sabha members' portal credentials -- user ID and password -- with unauthorised people, which had an irrepressible impact on national security, Joshi had said.

The committee had also recommended that in view of the "highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal conduct" of Moitra, an intense legal and institutional inquiry be initiated by the government with a set deadline.

The motion moved by Joshi said Moitra's "conduct has further been found to be unbecoming as an MP 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.

Earlier, ethics committee Chairman Vinod Kumar Sonkar had tabled the first report of the panel on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey against Moitra.

In October last year, Dubey, on the basis of a complaint submitted by Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, alleged that Moitra had asked questions in the Lok Sabha in exchange for cash and gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to mount an attack on industrialist Gautam Adani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In an affidavit to the ethics committee on 19 October, last year, Hiranandani claimed that Moitra had provided him with her login ID and password for the Lok Sabha members' website.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has already filed a preliminary FIR in the case.

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 2:29 PM
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