The Parliamentary Ethics Committee, headed by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar, which was looking into the cash-for-query allegations against Trianmool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, has voted in favour of her expulsion from Parliament. This is perhaps the first time the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha has recommended the expulsion of an MP, a retired Lok Sabha Secretariat official said.
In 2005, 11 MPs were expelled from Parliament in another "cashfor-query" case but those expulsions were recommended by the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee. A total of 10 members, including the chairman of the committee, attended the meeting. With three of its members unable to attend, the BJP numbers had dwindled from 7 to 4.
Of them, six members voted in favour of the recommendation and four voted against it. Suspended Congress MP Preneet Kaur voted in favour, thereby strengthening the BJP hand. The other members, who supported the adoption of the report, are Aparajita Sarangi, Rajdeep Roy, Sumedhanand Saraswati, Vinod Sonkar and Hemant Godse. Those who opposed the report were Danish Ali, V Vaithilingam, PR Natarajan, Giridhari Yadav.
Congress MP Vaithilingam, who opposed the expulsion, alleged that the resolution was passed "without any discussion by the committee". "All the decisions are one-sided. A draft resolution must be discussed. There was no discussion," Vaithilingam said. The recommendations of the committee will be submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday.
The draft report had suggested cancelling Moitra's Lok Sabha membership, finding her actions "highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal". One member of the committee was missing from the Opposition side too. Uttam Reddy, one of the five MPs who staged a walkout supporting Mahua on November 2, is filing his nomination for the Telangana Assembly elections.
The YSR Congress nominee in the committee also did not attend the meeting. The committee had concluded that Moitra had shared user ID with "unauthorised persons", took cash and amenities from businessman Darshan Hiranandani and it was "serious misdemeanour" on her part which calls for "serious punishment".
Moitra has admitted to sharing he parliamentary login, but claimed there is no regulation governing this. Ahead of her hearing, she had questioned why these rules "are not shared with MPs". The Ethics Committee does not have the powers to pursue a criminal case.