Interview: How can they say Mahua Moitra violated rules in the absence of a set rule? asks ex-LS secretary-general PDT Achary

Achary spoke to South First exclusively about the expulsion of Mahua Moitra and the ethics committee's recommendation to expel her.

ByV V P Sharma

Published Dec 08, 2023 | 5:22 PMUpdatedDec 08, 2023 | 9:19 PM

Mahua Moitra expulsion

Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra was expelled on Friday, 8 December, from the Lok Sabha after the House adopted the report of its Ethics Committee that held her guilty of accepting gifts and illegal gratification from a businessman to further his interest.

On Friday, PDT Achary, former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha spoke to South First exclusively about the expulsion of Mahua Moitra and the ethics committee’s recommendation to expel her.

Cash-for query row: LS expels Mahua Moitra amidst Opposition walkout

Q. Mahua Moitra charged that she has been punished for a practice that is “routine, accepted and encouraged in Lok Sabha”. What is your take on this?

A. The point in this question is whether giving someone the password and account details is against a set rule. There is no such rule in the Rule Book of the House.

If there is no rule, therefore, how can it be said she violated the rule? This appears to be the basic problem here. Whether the action was against the rule or not is the question.

Q. Moitra also charged that she has been found guilty of breaching a code of ethics that does not exist and that there was no evidence of cash or gift given to her.

A. The charge is about cash-for-query. If true, it is a serious charge and a breach of privilege for which there is a punishment.

It has been done in the past. In this case, it should have gone to the Privileges Committee that deals with such issues. Instead, it went to the Ethics Committee which looks into the unethical conduct of members. It is not defined what is unethical conduct. We can only deduce something from past decisions.

Therefore, the Ethics Committee does not have the mandate to expel a member elected by 15 to 20 lakh people without any serious consideration. Expulsion is a big punishment, for contempt of the House or breaching the privilege which the Privileges Committee should look into.

Q. Do you see this case giving rise to any kind of trend?

A. This has given rise to the Opposition saying she was not given time to respond and the opportunity to cross-examine the complainants, and that the complainants were not fully examined.

A parliamentary committee probe should follow procedures to bring out the truth. That is the objective of the probe.

Whether proper procedure has been used and properly, whether it is a fair procedure, which is what Article 31 of the Constitution talks about, about following a fair procedure, all this applies here.