|Speaker gets Supreme
Court notice on MP's expulsion
New Delhi, January 16, 2006
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on the expulsion of an MP from the House after he was secretly filmed accepting money in a TV sting, and referred the issue to a Constitution Bench.
"Since the matter involves interpretation of constitutional provisions, we are referring it to a five-judge Constitution Bench," a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal ruled on the plea by Raja Ram Pal of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one of the 11 MPs caught in the sting in December last year and expelled.
Notice was also issued to the Election Commission, though the court declined to restrain it from holding by-elections to the 10 Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat that had fallen vacant after the expulsion of the MPs. Six of them belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), three to the BSP and one each to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.
The Bench issued notice to Attorney General Milon K Banerjee to assist the court in deciding the important question of law raised in the petition of Pal, who alone among the 11 has approached it.
The Bench said the petition required interpretation of Article 105 of the Constitution - whether it provided for the expulsion of a MP for reasons other than those contemplated in the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act (RPA).
The petitioner assailed his expulsion on the ground that Parliament did not have the power to remove a member caught in a sting operation without giving him sufficient opportunity to explain his conduct.
The petitioner contended
that the Constitution provided for disqualification of a member only on
the grounds of defection. Even the RPA did not have any provision to expel
a member caught in a sting operation, he maintained.
Somnath calls for all-party
meet to discuss HC notice
Sources in Parliament secretariat said the Speaker had convened the meeting to ascertain the views of all political parties and the stand to be taken to the notice.
They said even legal experts had been asked to attend the meeting to give their views on the issue to facilitate the legislators to take a stand. Mr Chatterjee had stated that courts had no jurisdiction in the matter.
The Delhi High Court yesterday issued notices to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats, Election Commission and the Centre on the petitions by eight of the 11 MPs challenging their expulsion in the scam.
The expelled MPs who moved the plea include Mr Chhattarpal Singh Lodha (Rajya Sabha), Mr Suresh Chandel (Hamirpur), Mr Pradeep Gandhi (Rajnandgaon), Mr Yashwant G Mahajan (Jalgaon), Mr M.K. Anna Saheb Patil (Erandol) and Mr Chandra Pratap Singh (Sidhi), (all BJP), RJD's Manoj Kumar (Palamu) and Congress' Ram Sevak Singh (Gwalior), (all Lok Sabha). The order of December 23, 2005, to expel 11 MPs from Parliament was “illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional”, the petitioners argued.
The petitioners have also sought directions to the Election Commission not to conduct any polls in these constituencies till the final decision was taken. The Pawan Bansal committee, which looked into the matter, did not give them a chance to redress their grievances, they said. They said they had been victimised by certain persons allegedly representing the media and thereafter, they were punished by the Speaker and the Union Government merely on the basis of the media reports. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had acted in haste and expelled them without giving due consideration to the privileges enjoyed by the petitioners as the Members of Parliament, said the petition.
The respondents had ignored the principles of law and natural justice while constituting the committee and calling upon it to investigate the matter on the basis of the evidence furnished by the “vested interests” who had been motivated by financial gains and cheap publicity, the petition said.
In all, 11 MPs were expelled from Parliament after “Operation Duryodhan”, which showed them allegedly accepting bribe from undercover reporters posing as NGO representatives, to raise questions in the House.
Parliament sacks all 11
Media exposed genuine wrongdoing, says House panel
Thursday, December 22, 2005
NEW DELHI: "Media is in no way to blame for exposing genuine wrong doing."
This was how the Lok Sabha Inquiry Committee, which went into the 'cash-for-query' scam, has commented on the sting operation exposing corruption among MPs aired by a television news channel last week.
The Committee, headed by senior Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, endorsed the view taken by the First Report of the Committee of the British House of Commons on Standards in Public Life under the Chairmanship of Lord Nolan.
"A free press using fair techniques of investigative journalism is an indispensable asset to our democracy," the House of Commons Committee had held. It noted that "we would prefer more acknowledgement from the media that the overwhelming majority of public servants work hard and have high standards. We would prefer more recognition of the value of our democratic mechanisms and dangers of undermining them. "But we do not hold the media in any way to blame for exposing genuine wrongdoing.
They have a duty to enquire-coupled with a duty to do so responsibly and in that way we can contribute to the preservation of standards in public life". Stung by the way MPs are being made a "commercial product" in sting operartions, a strong demand was made in the Lok Sabha yesterday for an inquiry into the motives behind the media expose and action against journalists involved in it.
PM to consult UPA on Bansal
MPs want to know the motive behind sting operations
December 21, 2005
NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha’s inquiry committee has, in a stringent move, recommended expulsion of 10 MPs caught in the cash-for-query sting, after holding them guilty of misconduct which has lowered the dignity of
Parliament. With two TV stings having hit Parliament in the last week, the political class in under considerable pressure to redeem itself and the move to terminate the membership of the errant MPs seems driven by the need to clear the sleaze exposed on camera. The committee found them guilty after watching the videotapes obtained from the TV channel and hearing out the accused. The panel submitted the report to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday, which was incidentally the deadline set at the time of its constitution. Headed by Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and comprising Ram Gopal Yadav of SP, Mohd Salim of CPM, Kuppuswami of DMK and V K Malhotra of BJP, the panel has found the MPs guilty of the misdemeanour of accepting cash for putting up questions for a fictitious NGO, which turned out to be camera-wielding journalists.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
NEW DELHI: Stung by the way MPs are being made a commercial product in sting operations, a strong demand was made in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday for an inquiry into the motives behind the media expose.
The members opposed scrapping of the MPLAD Scheme in the wake of a sting operation, contending that it was a good scheme which needed to be continued.
Several members supported Prabhu Nath Singh (JD-U) who demanded action against the media indulging in sting operations, arguing the media had no business to intrude into MPs' homes with cameras and present the picture in a "distorted" way to lower dignity of the House
"No institution can be above the law," he said alleging that 'Operation Duryodhan' was sold to the TV channel for as much as Rs.58 lakhs by those who carried out the exercise.
Quoting from Kaul and Shakdher, Mohan Singh, SP, said the matter involved privilege of the House as any attempt to corrupt a member was a cognizable offence.
He said while action should be taken against those found guilty, those giving bribes cannot go scot free. "This is an organised attempt to defame Parliament," he said.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee noted that he has not said any MP was guilty and that "there is no question of any witch hunt against our own members".
Sting Operation, On-camera
expose shows corruption
The latest sting operation exposed MPs asking for cuts ranging from 5% to 45% for sanctioning funds under the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) — a kitty of Rs 8,000 crore — to be spent at the discretion of members of both Houses.
The sting, which comes at a time when the political class is already reeling under the aftermath of the cash-for-query scam, also featured lacklustre names with the exception of the flamboyant and controversial former Goa chief minister and south Goa MP Churchill Alemao of Congress. BJP once again had a higher head count of MPs — from Mandla (Madhya Pradesh) MP Faggan Singh Kulaste, Sidhi MP Chandra Pratap Singh, who has already been tainted in "Operation Duryodhan", and Ramswaroop Koli from Bayana in Rajasthan.
Sakshi Maharaj, who owes
his current Rajya Sabha term to Samajwadi Party, started out as a saffronite.
SP, however, was represented by an authentic Samajwadi in Parliament’s
new hall of infamy in Paras Nath Yadav from Jaunpur. Also included was
Bahajun Samaj Party's Isham Singh from Saharanpur.
MPLADS funds provide Rs 2 crore annually to each MP. The money is required to be spent in the development of the MP’s constituency. Though the funds are not directly handed to MPs, they have a decisive say in the identification and execution of the schemes, in many cases handed over to contractors of choice. While there are many examples where the fund went for genuine schemes-such as the development of the Biotechnology Centre at IIT Kanpur from Arun Shourie’s corpus, there have been growing allegations of MPs collecting hefty cuts from contractors.
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