Mahua Moitra

Mahua Deposes Before LS Ethics Committee, Cross-Examination Begins

Mahua Moitra

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday appeared for her deposition before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee in connection with the alleged ‘Cash for Query’ charge against her.

According to sources, Mahua Moitra has given a statement and there will now be a cross-examination by the Committee.

Sources said that certain members of the committee differed over the statement given by the Trinamool MP.

Moitra will now be cross examined based on the alleged evidence shared by the complainants BJP MP Nishkant Dubey and Advocate Jai Dehadrai.

The committee led by BJP MP Vinod Sonkar and comprising MPs V Vaithilingam, Danish Ali, Sunita Duggal, Aparajita Sarangi, Parneet Kaur, Swami Sumedhanand and Rajdeep Roy began their deposition at the committee room this morning.

Earlier on November 2, Mahua Moitra had in a letter to the ethics panel requested for a summons date after November 5 citing pre-scheduled Vijaya Dashmi programmes. The panel, however, asked her to appear before it today.

Moitra is facing ‘Cash for Query’ charges made by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey, who alleged that the Trinamool MP had taken bribes from Dubai-based businessman Hiranandani to raise questions in Parliament to target the Adani Group.

Dubey also wrote a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, titled “Re-emergence of nasty ‘Cash for Query’ in Parliament”, seeking a probe into the matter. He also claimed that Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai had provided him with proof of alleged bribes.

The BJP MP and Supreme Court advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, the complainant in case had appeared before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on October 26 to provide oral evidence of their allegations.

On Wednesday, Moitra made public her letter to the Ethics Committee chairman and BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar. Posting a two-page letter on her X handle, Moitra said, “Since the Ethics Committee deemed it fit to release my summons to the media I think it is important I too release my letter to the Committee before my hearing.”

In her letter, Moitra alleged that advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai had provided no documentary evidence to back his allegations in either his written complaint and neither could he provide any evidence in his oral hearing.

“In keeping with the principles of natural justice I wish to exercise my right to cross-examine Dehadrai,” she wrote in her letter to the Committee.

“In light of the seriousness of the allegations, it is imperative that the alleged ‘bribe-giver’ Darshan Hiranandani, who has given a ‘Suo-Motu’ affidavit to the Committee with scant details and no documentary evidence whatsoever, be called to depose before the Committee and provide the said evidence in the form of a documented itemised inventory with amounts, date etc” she further wrote.

“I wish to place on record that in keeping with the principles of natural justice I wish to exercise my right to cross-examine Hiranandani,” Moitra added.

The Trinamool MP had asked the Ethics Committee to answer in writing and place on record their decision to either allow or disallow such cross-examination.

Moitra also raised concerns over the ‘double-standards’ of the Ethics Committee and

highlighted that the panel was adopting a different approach in the case of BJP MP Ramesh Biduri, who she says has a very serious complaint of hate speech.

“In direct contrast, a very different approach has been adopted in the case of Shri Ramesh Biduri, MP, BJP who has a very serious complaint of hate speech (which was openly made on the floor of the House) pending against him in the Privileges and Ethics branch made by a Hon’ble member of this same Committee, Shri Danish Ali, MP. Biduri was summoned on October 10, 2023 to provide oral evidence and informed the Committee that he was away campaigning in Rajasthan and would not be attending. No further date of his hearing has been given so far. I wish to place on record that these double-standards reek of political motives and do little to enhance the credibility of the Privileges & Ethics Branch,” Moitra said in her letter.

The Trinamool MP also questioned the jurisdiction of the committee in investigating alleged criminality. “There is also the question of whether the Ethics committee is the appropriate forum to examine alleged criminality. I wish to respectfully remind you that Parliamentary Committees do not have criminal jurisdiction and have no mandate to investigate alleged criminality…. This check was specifically created by our nation’s founders to prevent even the slightest misuse of Committees by the government enjoying a brute majority in Parliament”, Moitra wrote. (ANI)

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