Today (3 January), the Supreme Court refused to look into the expulsion of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra from the Lok Sabha, marking a blow to the leader who is embroiled in cash-for-query allegations associated with businessman Darshan Hiranandani.
The Supreme Court, while not rejecting Moitra's appeal against her removal from parliament, stated that it would initially decide whether it has the authority to adjudicate the issue, NDTV reported.
Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General representing the Lok Sabha secretariat, argued that the Supreme Court should refrain from intervening in decisions made within parliament.
The Supreme Court has stated that they will conduct an investigation if they possess the power of judicial review, and have subsequently issued a notice to the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The Supreme Court has allowed the Lok Sabha Secretariat a three-week period to provide a response, following which Moitra will be granted an additional three weeks to issue her reply. The court proceedings will recommence on 11 March.
Currently, Moitra is still barred from the Lok Sabha and is unable to partake in its proceedings.
The Supreme Court has currently refrained from commenting on the validity of the issues brought forth by Moitra in her expulsion dispute, but has decided to keep the case active.
"Did you concede to sharing the OTP with Hiranandani?" the Supreme Court questioned during today's proceedings.
"Every MP does this with their secretaries," stated Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the senior lawyer representing Moitra, in court.
The Supreme Court rejected Moitra's plea for a prompt hearing due to the upcoming Budget session next month.
Accusations were made against 49-year-old Moitra for allegedly accepting bribes, which included Rs 2 crore in cash and "luxury gift items", from Hiranandani. The bribes were supposedly in return for her posing government-critical questions in parliament.
Additionally, she was accused of providing her log-in details for a confidential account on the parliamentary website, enabling Hiranandani to post those questions directly.
Moitra refuted the accusations of bribery, however, she acknowledged that she had shared her login details. She defended her actions by stating that such sharing of information is a customary practice among MPs.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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