Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has been summoned by the Lok Sabha ethics committee on October 31 in the “cash for query” controversy. The committee agreed the allegations against Ms Moitra were “very serious”.
In a nearly three-hour-long proceeding today, the committee heard both BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai and discussed every aspect of the allegations they have made against the Trinamool Congress MP, sources said.
The ethics committee chairman Vinod Sonkar told reporters they have sent letters to the Information Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry seeking details on key aspects of the case for a deeper investigation.
“We heard the lawyer and Nishikant Dubey ji. Taking note of the seriousness of the allegations, we have decided to summon Mahua Moitra on Tuesday. She should come and present her side of the matter,” Mr Sonkar told reporters after the ethics committee proceeding ended.
Mr Dehadrai, on whose complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the entire case rests, was cross-examined by the ethics committee, while Mr Dubey was allowed to explain his allegations, sources said.
Referring to the CBI complaint, Mr Dubey had written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and levelled cash-for-query allegations against Ms Moitra. The Trinamool MP has called the Supreme Court lawyer her “jilted ex”.
Some opposition members raised questions over Mr Dubey’s intent because Ms Moitra had highlighted the issue of his educational qualifications. Mr Dubey, however, said he has already got a clean chit on this matter, sources said. v
The letter claimed to share “irrefutable evidence” of businessman Darshan Hiranandani giving bribes to Ms Moitra to ask questions in parliament. The questions were allegedly designed to target the Adani Group.
The ethics committee will give a report to the Lok Sabha Speaker “as early as possible”, people with direct knowledge of the matter told NDTV, referring to the Pawan Bansal committee that gave its report in just two weeks in December 2005 in the infamous cash-for-questions scam when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power in the centre.
Mr Dehadrai told reporters the proceedings were “cordial and pleasant” and he answered all the questions the ethics committee asked. “Everything was very cordial and they were very pleasant. Some questions were put to me and I have answered those questions,” he said while leaving.
Mr Dubey said he will be available whenever the ethics committee calls him. “They were normal questions… All I can say is the MPs are concerned. When they call me next I will come. The question is whether the propriety and dignity of parliament will hold. It is a question of the dignity of parliament. The ethics committee is more worried than me,” Mr Dubey told reporters.
In an affidavit, Mr Hiranandani alleged the Trinamool MP shared her MP email so that he could send her information and she could raise the questions in parliament. He alleged she later gave him her parliament login and password for him to post the questions directly. The ethics committee reaching out to the Information Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry is linked to the alleged misuse of the parliament login ID and password by Ms Moitra.
Ms Moitra has denied the allegations and said she is prepared for any inquiry. She has also said that she is ready to answer questions from the Lok Sabha ethics committee.
Neither The Trinamool nor its INDIA bloc allies have come out in support of Ms Moitra so far. The Trinamool has said it will not comment on the case. The party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, has said they will take an appropriate decision on the allegations against Ms Moitra after the parliamentary panel completes its investigation.