Lok Sabha secretary gets notice in Mahua Moitra’s expulsion matter

| Updated: 03 January, 2024 6:00 pm IST

NEW DELHI : On Wednesday, the Supreme Court requested a response from the Lok Sabha secretary-general in response to a petition filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra challenging her expulsion from the Lok Sabha over alleged “ethical misconduct”. However, the Court declined Moitra’s participation in the House proceedings in the meantime.

The bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta noted that issues related to the jurisdiction of the court and the power of judicial review in the case would arise. The bench agreed to examine Moitra’s plea in detail but kept all issues open for further argument.

“We are issuing notice, but we are keeping all issues open to be argued at a later point,” said the bench, asking the Lok Sabha secretary-general to respond within three weeks. The next hearing is scheduled for March.

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta raised concerns over the scope of judicial review in a matter where a sovereign organ of the State had decided its internal discipline. Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Moitra, argued that Moitra’s expulsion on flimsy grounds aimed to stifle the Opposition’s voice.

The bench rejected Mehta’s request not to issue a formal notice, stating, “No,we are issuing notice and will leave all issues, including the issue of our jurisdiction, open for a later stage.”

Singhvi requested the bench to consider Moitra’s interim plea to participate in House proceedings, but the bench remained indisposed. “No,that will be virtually allowing your writ petition. When we are ourselves in doubt as to the extent of our examination, how can we allow this? We are not saying anything in your application. We are not dismissing your application nor are we allowing it today. We will take it up when the matter is listed,” it said.

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Moitra, a MP from WB’s Krishnanagar, was expelled on December 8 over cash-for-query charges. She alleged “substantial illegality” and “arbitrariness” by the House’s ethics committee that recommended the action against her.

Moitra challenged the disqualification process and emphasised that she was not allowed to defend herself in the House during a discussion on the findings of the ethics committee.

Singhvi argued that Moitra was expelled only for sharing her login credentials, and the ethics committee’s findings lacked principles of natural justice. He pointed out that Moitra was not allowed to cross-examine key individuals. When the bench asked if the court could go into the merits of the matter, Singhvi questioned if Opposition MPs could be expelled on such flimsy grounds without any recourse.

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