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Mahua Moitra’s Request for Cross-Examination: TMC MP Seeks Permission to Challenge Accusers in Cash-for-Query Scandal

01-11-2023 : Mahua Moitra, a prominent Member of Parliament from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party, currently entangled in a cash-for-query scandal, has made a formal request to the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee for permission to cross-examine two key individuals involved in the controversy – industrialist Darshan Hiranandani, alleged to have offered her bribes, and lawyer Jai Dehadrai, who has presented evidence against her. This development comes as Moitra is scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday. The committee’s investigation stems from a complaint filed against Moitra by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who claimed to possess “irrefutable evidence” presented by advocate Jai Anant Dehadra, accusing Moitra of accepting bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to target the Adani Group.

Both Dubey and Dehadrai have already furnished their “oral evidence” to the committee in support of their claims against Moitra. In a letter shared on the social media platform X, Moitra expressed her dissatisfaction with the committee’s decision not to postpone her appearance until after November 5, citing preexisting “constituency commitments” that clashed with the scheduled date.

Moitra further drew a parallel with another recent case involving the use of unparliamentary language by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri directed at BSP MP Danish Ali. She pointed out that the committee appeared to adopt a “different approach” in handling this case, insinuating double standards. She asserted that such double standards undermined the credibility of the Privileges and Ethics branch and raised questions about potential political motives at play.

In her letter, Moitra contended that the complainant, Jai Dehadrai, had failed to provide any concrete documented evidence against her. Therefore, she requested the committee’s permission to cross-examine Dehadrai, asserting her right to do so in the interest of natural justice. Moitra also urged the committee to summon Darshan Hiranandani, the alleged “bribe-giver,” to testify and provide evidence. She emphasized that such a step would align with the principles of natural justice.

Moitra went on to question the committee’s jurisdiction in investigating allegations of criminal conduct, highlighting concerns about whether it is the appropriate forum for examining such issues. She noted that parliamentary committees lack criminal jurisdiction and are not mandated to investigate criminality. She reminded the committee that this limitation was intentionally established by the nation’s founders to prevent any misuse of committees by a government enjoying an overwhelming majority in Parliament.