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regular-article-logo Monday, 04 March 2024

Cash-for-query case: Lok Sabha Ethics Committee asks Mahua Moitra to appear on November 2

The panel also asserted that no further extension would be granted

PTI New Delhi Published 28.10.23, 01:42 PM
Mahua Moitra

Mahua Moitra File

The Lok Sabha's Ethics Committee on Saturday turned down TMC MP Mahua Moitra's request to call her after November 5 while allowing a two-day extension, as the panel asked her to appear before it for "oral evidence" on November 2 in relation to the cash-for-query allegation against her.

Striking a strong tone, the committee headed by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar told Moitra that it would not entertain any further request for extension for any reason whatsoever "keeping in view the seriousness of the matter, having implications on the dignity of Parliament as well as its Members".

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She had on Friday written to the committee, which is probing the allegations against her, expressing her inability to appear before it on October 31 as scheduled and saying she will be available only after November 5.

The Lok Sabha secretariat told her on Saturday, "Chairperson, Committee on Ethics has acceded to your request for extension of date for appearing before the Committee on Ethics, i.e., re-scheduling the sitting of the Committee. It has, accordingly, been decided to hear you in the above matter, in person, on 2 November...." The committee is looking into the cash-for-query complaint filed against the fiery TMC leader by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey who has cited "irrefutable evidence" presented by advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, once close to her, to accuse Moitra of taking bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to target the Adani Group.

On Thursday, Dubey and Dehadrai had given their "oral evidence" to the panel against her.

Moitra has said she should be given "a fair hearing and an adequate opportunity to defend myself against the false, malicious and defamatory accusations levelled against me by Shri Dubey and Shri Dehadrai".

She has dismissed the charges against her while admitting, in remarks to media, that she shared her parliamentary portal login details with Hiranandani in connection with typing questions on her behalf as he has long been a friend.

She has, however, asserted that it was meant just to help her and rejected any quid pro quo.

Dubey has said sharing of login details with anyone is a violation of agreement with the government body (NIC) managing the portal and is a security risk.

The TMC MP has claimed that the Adani Group is behind the "bogus" charges due to her strident criticism of the business conglomerate and the government's alleged support to it.

Dubey, a leading BJP voice in Lok Sabha in targeting the opposition over various issues, claimed on Saturday that Hiranandani and Moita remain in touch and that attempts are allegedly being made to influence witnesses.

Hiranandani had submitted an affidavit admitting to the allegations that he bribed Moitra to target the Adani Group and also Modi. Moitra has alleged that the businessman filed the affidavit under coercion.

In her letter to the committee, she said on Friday, "I wish to place on record that any enquiry without the oral evidence of Shri Hiranandani will be incomplete, unfair and akin to holding a proverbial 'kangaroo court' and that he too will need to be called to depose before the Committee before it prepares its final report."

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