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Ethics and Parliamentary Conduct

Why is it in the news?

  • An MP from All India Trinamool Congress, recently faced allegations of unethical conduct. It was claimed that she took money to raise specific questions in Parliament, benefiting a businessman.
  • Later, the Speaker referred the matter to the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee for examination.


Consequences of Taking Money

·       If an MP accepts money for raising questions in Parliament, it’s seen as a breach of privilege and contempt.

·       Typically, such allegations are examined by the Committee of Privileges and if proven guilty, an MP could be expelled.


More about the news

Lok Sabha Ethics Committee

  • It was formed in 2000 to address complaints related to unethical conduct of MPs and formulate a code of conduct.
  • However, the term ‘unethical conduct’ remains undefined, giving the committee discretion in its interpretation.


Historical Precedents:

·       1951 Case: H.G. Mudgal faced similar accusations. Although found guilty, he resigned before potential expulsion.

·       2005 Sting Operation: 10 MPs were exposed for taking money. All were subsequently expelled.


 Previous Verdicts by the Ethics Committee

  • Impersonation Case: An MP misrepresented a female companion as his wife during an official trip, which led to suspension from sittings and a ban on bringing companions.
  • Parking Label Misuse: An MP misused a parking label but apologized, leading to case closure.
  • Passport Misuse: A grave misconduct where an MP misused passport. A special inquiry recommended expulsion.


Jurisdiction and Limitations

  • Unlike judicial probes, which are grounded in laws and rules, parliamentary inquiries are less rigid.
  • Critics argue that severe misconduct cases should be under the Committee of Privileges or special committees, and not the Ethics Committee.
  • Further, the Parliament doesn’t investigate criminal offences; that’s the domain of investigative agencies.
  • Beyond parliamentary actions, MPs can face legal trials, as evidenced by the 10 MPs from the 2005 sting.


Concerns over Online Question Submission

·       Lok Sabha hasn’t set clear rules for online question submission.

·       MPs often share login details with assistants due to their busy schedules.

·       Under Article 105 of the Constitution, MPs can source information freely for their parliamentary tasks, without revealing their sources.

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