The Ethics Committee, in its cash-for-query case report released on Friday (8 December), stated that Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra received gifts such as "luxury items" and the use of a car. These "serious misdemeanours", according to the committee, warrant strict punishment.
The report was in response to allegations that Moitra accepted bribes, including a cash amount of Rs 2 crore, from businessman Darshan Hiranandani. She allegedly took these bribes to pose questions in Parliament that were critical of the Narendra Modi government and Adani group.
According to NDTV, the lengthy 500-page document included a statement from Hiranandani. He revealed that the requests and benefits sought included presenting her with high-end luxury gifts, aiding in the refurbishment of her government-assigned bungalow in Delhi, covering travel costs, and funding holidays.
The report emphasised the "undeniable" fact that the allegations of receiving illicit favors have been clearly proven. It stated that accepting presents from a businessman, to whom she provided log-in details, constitutes a reciprocal exchange, which is inappropriate and unethical for a Member of Parliament.
The Ethics Committee has thus proposed that Mahua Moitra should be removed from her membership in the Seventeenth Lok Sabha. Furthermore, it has urged the government to conduct a formal legal inquiry due to the unethical, atrocious, and criminal behavior of Moitra.
Sources indicate that the government plans to introduce a motion in Parliament to oust Mahua Moitra.
The committee has recommended a "time-bound" investigation into Moitra, and the matter has been passed on to investigative agencies that possess the technical know-how to trace the "money trail".
Regarding Moitra's acceptance of bribes in the form of cash, the Ethics Committee stated, "We must honestly acknowledge that we lack the technical capacity and skill to conduct a criminal investigation or trace the 'money trail'. This responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the central government."
Moitra and her advocates have dismissed corruption allegations against her, emphasising that no money has been found related to this issue so far. However, a CBI investigation is currently in progress.
The Lok Sabha saw a heated debate this afternoon when the report was presented, leading to a dispute between the ruling BJP and the opposition. The opposition is insisting on an in-depth debate over the matter and a vote division to pressurise the government.
Earlier today, the usually assertive and resolute Moitra made her entrance into Parliament. She briefly paused to address the media, saying, "Maa Durga has arrived! Now, let's see... When calamity befalls humanity, wisdom is the first casualty."
"They've initiated it... and now you're set to observe 'The battlefield of Mahabharat'."
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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