The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MP sack plan puts BJP in a jam

New Delhi, Dec. 22: The Lok Sabha probe panel’s recommendation to expel the cash-for-questions MPs has posed a dilemma for the BJP, which has the most members on the blacklist of 10.

The party, facing a reduction in House strength by five, has warned it would oppose any motion to accept the recommendation.

The BJP’s problem is, it would not like to be seen as objecting to a move against corruption in high places. More so because the Congress ' with a lone member on the list ' has hinted at a tough stand.

The report of the inquiry committee, headed by Congress member Pawan Kumar Bansal, was tabled in the Lok Sabha today and the House is likely to consider it tomorrow.

It’s unclear under which rule the report would be discussed, but if it’s put to the vote, things could get acutely embarrassing for the principal Opposition party. The BJP, therefore, has built its case around alleged procedural lapses in the move to axe the MPs.

“We believe that action should be taken against those who are corrupt. At the same time, we would like to see to it that nobody is unduly punished, without proper procedure having been followed,” the party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, told reporters.

Malhotra has already added a note of dissent to the report. It argues that no MP can be expelled except for a breach of privilege of the House.

“The matter must, therefore, be dealt with according to the rules of the privileges committee. It should be referred to the privileges committee on a motion moved in the House, or the existing committee should adopt the rules of the privileges committee,” he said.

At the privileges committee, the accused will have the right of cross-examination, argument and defence.

“This is the law of natural justice. You cannot punish someone without giving them a proper chance to defend themselves,” Malhotra said.

Sources in Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s office claimed he, too, believed that at any House debate on the subject, the accused should be allowed to be present and state their case.

The BJP has also been trying to create an impression that the ruling alliance is divided on the issue.


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