A belligerent Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Friday declared that it was "imperative" and in the interest "of natural justice" that she be allowed to cross-examine businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who has levelled a series of allegations against her.
Details of the tussle
In an affidavit, Hiranandani had claimed that Moitra had given him her parliament login ID to frame questions on the Adani Group, which she felt was the "only way" to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also claimed that she had demanded "various favours" and he had gifted her expensive luxury items. Moitra responded by pointing out that Hiranandani’s affidavit was extremely scanty on details and provides no actual inventory of what he has allegedly given her.
"Given the seriousness of the allegations and in keeping with the principles of natural justice, it is imperative that I am allowed to exercise my right to cross-examine Shri Hiranandani," she said.
"any enquiry without oral evidence of Hiranandani will be incomplete"
"It is also imperative that he appear before the committee and provide a detailed verified list of the alleged gifts & favours he allegedly provided to me. I wish to place on record that any enquiry without the oral evidence of Shri Hiranandani will be incomplete, unfair and akin to holding a proverbial 'kangaroo court' and that he too will need to be called to depose before the committee before it prepares its final report," she wrote.
Moitra also said that she will not appear on October 31 before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, which is probing the "cash-for query" allegations, owing to prior Durga puja commitments in her constituency. Rather, she will be available only after November 5.
"I look very much forward to appearing before the committee at any date chosen by you after November 5, 2023," she wrote in a letter to panel chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar. She also pointed out that a similar courtesy had been extended to BJP MP Ramesh Biduri who had been summoned by the Privileges Committee on October 10 and had sought more time since he had scheduled political meetings in Rajasthan.
Committee recorded statements of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey
In its hearing on Thursday, the committee had recorded the statements of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had filed a complaint against Moitra before the Lok Sabha Speaker, and Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, on whose letter the complaint was based. In her post with the letter, Moitra claimed that committee chief Sonkar had announced her October 31 summons on live TV long before the official letter was mailed to her explaining the reasons for not appearing on October 31.
"Chairman, Ethics Committee, announced my 31/10 summons on live TV, much before the official letter was emailed to me at 19:20 hrs. All complaints & suo motu affidavits also released to media. I look forward to deposing immediately after my pre- scheduled constituency programmes end on November 4," she said in the post.