Home NEWSCURRENT UPDATE Mahua Moitra Expulsion: Supreme Court’s Notice To Lok Sabha Secretary General On Mahua Moitra’s Expulsion

Mahua Moitra Expulsion: Supreme Court’s Notice To Lok Sabha Secretary General On Mahua Moitra’s Expulsion

by Web Desk
Mahua Moitra Expulsion

The Supreme Court sought a response today from the Lok Sabha secretary general to a petition filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) member of Parliament Mahua Moitra challenging her expulsion from the Lok Sabha over alleged “ethical misconduct”.

The court refused to let Moitra participate in the House proceedings in the meantime. It agreed to examine Moitra's plea in detail but noted that issues regarding jurisdiction and the power of judicial review would arise in the case.

Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta also noted that issues with regard to the jurisdiction of the court and power of judicial review in respect of a decision taken by a legislative House would crop up in the case. “We are issuing notice, but we are keeping all issues open to be argued at a later point,” said the bench, asking the LS
secretary-general to respond within three weeks.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared on behalf of the Lok Sabha secretary general and raised the question over the remit of a judicial review in the matter where a sovereign organ of the State had decided its internal discipline. Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Moitra regretted that an MP was expelled on the flimsy ground in a bid towards throttling the voice of the Opposition.

The bench turned down Mehta’s request not to issue a formal notice on the matter though the Solicitor General raised the issue of separation of power besides Moitra’s alleged act of sharing her login credentials and password as an MP with an unauthorised persons in Dubai threatened national security.

“No, no. We are issuing notice and will leave all issues including the issue of our jurisdiction open for a later stage,” the bench informed Mehta.

Whereupon Singhvi requested the bench to consider Moitra’s interim plea for allowing her to participate in the House’s proceedings, but the bench remained indisposed. “No, no. That will be virtually allowing your writ petition. When we are ourselves in doubt as to the extent of our examination, how can we allow this? We are not saying

anything in your application. We are not dismissing your application nor are we allowing it today. We will take it up when the matter is listed,” the bench said. The TMC MP from WB’s Krishnanagar was expelled on December 8, 2023, over
‘cash-for-query’ charges. She alleged “substantial illegality” and “arbitrariness” by the House’s ethics committee that had recommended the action against her.

Moitra, as a first-time member, has risen to prominence with her fiery speeches in the House. She was expelled over her “direct involvement” in cash-for-query charges and “unethical” conduct.

The TMC legislator had been expelled from the Lok Sabha with a voice vote amid a walkout by Opposition members. The expulsion was the basis of an ethics committee report that recommended the same for Moitra sharing her login credentials and password with an unauthorised person and its impact on national security. Furthermore, it stated that she had accepted gifts and possibly cash as a “quid pro quo” from a businessman Darshan Hiranandani.

She found herself in the midst of a row after BJP lawmaker Nishikant Dubey wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in September on the basis of a complaint by lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai. Dehadrai alleged the TMC legislator had accepted money and favours to ask questions in Parliament.

Moitra, in her petition, challenged the disqualification process and pointed out how she was not allowed to defend herself in the House during the discussion on the findings of the ethics committee.

Arguing for the MP, Singhvi emphasised that Moitra was expelled only on account of sharing her login credentials, though no charge of quid pro quo or any illicit monetary gains were proved against her.

“Second, importantly, login access to the portal does not amount to its use since there is an additional step for authentication in the form of an OTP. Third, no existing code of conduct regulates the sharing of passwords or access, there are no existing rules. But she has been expelled under a rule on hacking,” said Singhvi.
The ethics committee arrived at its findings without following principles of natural justice, he argued. He pointed out that she was not allowed to cross-examine Hiranandani and Dehadrai.

The bench asked Singhvi if the court could go into the merits of the matter, to which the senior counsel replied: “Can Opposition MPs be expelled on such flimsy grounds and your lordships will have no recourse? Can an MP be punished for delegating her work?”.
Singhvi accepted that Moitra shared login OTPs with Hiranandani but added that many other MPs have done the same, sharing OTPs with staff.

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