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Cash-for-query case: Lok Sabha Ethics Committee summons Mahua Moitra on November 2, says no further extension will be granted

New Delhi: A day after Mahua Moitra said she could not appear before Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on next Tuesday, the Parliamentary panel on Saturday asked her to be present before it on November 2 while asserting that she will not get any further extension.

Sources said the panel chose to extend the date for her appearance from October 31 to November 2 in the cash-for-query allegations against her based on her letter in which she urged the chairperson to set a date after November 5.

While pushing the schedule by two days, the panel told Mahua that she will not get any further extension and she will have to appear on November 2.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said if a Parliamentary committee has summoned someone, then they should appear before it and clear their stand.

“Even if she does not accept her mistakes, then too, the truth cannot be hidden. The country wants to know how the Member of the Parliament was sold. It is a matter of national security and corruption. There should be an inquiry and appropriate action should be taken quickly,” he said.

On Friday, she wrote to Ethics Committee Chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar saying she represents West Bengal where Durga Puja is the biggest festival and that she has committed to attend numerous political and government organised programmes in her constituency between October 30 and November 4 and cannot be in Delhi on October 31.

Due to this, she requested to be given time to appear in person before the committee at any date and time of the committee’s choice after November 5. She cited the “recent example” of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri being given extension of time for appearing before the Privileges Committee after he requested postponement due to “pre-fixed political meetings”.

The Ethics Committee had on Thursday recorded the statements of lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had submitted complaints against her. The panel then decided to call her on October 31.

In the letter, she also sought permission to cross-examine businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who had submitted an affidavit substantiating the allegations levelled by Dubey and Dehadrai that she took gifts and cash for raising questions in Parliament and that she provided her official log-in credentials to him to post questions against a business rival. Mahua claimed that Darshan’s affidavit was “extremely scant in detail” and provides “no actual inventory of what he has allegedly given” her.

“…it is also imperative that he appears before the committee and provide a detailed verified list of the alleged gifts and favours he allegedly provided to me. I wish to place on record that any enquiry without the oral evidence of 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,” she said.

(Published 28 October 2023, 08:37 IST)

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