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Ethics panel cites Hiranandani's Dubai residency, national security threat, 'illegal' gratification to indict Moitra

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee has cited the threats India faces from state and non-state cyber actors to indict TMC MP Mahua Moitra for sharing her log-in credentials with businessman Darshan Hiranandani, noting that he has residency rights in Dubai and has close relatives who are foreign nationals.

“This creates a serious risk of leakage of sensitive material to foreign agencies,” the panel has concluded, as it cited the report submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to record that her portal was operated 47 times from the UAE between July 2019 and April 2023, a source said.

Such leak of credentials could render the system vulnerable to serious cyber-attacks and potentially disable the system entirely, crippling the functioning of India’s Parliament, the panel headed by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar is learnt to have concluded in its report which was adopted in its meeting on Thursday.

Such elements could plant material into the system that could impact national security by creating false documents or fake narratives, sources added.

The committee was told that the panel hosts many documents, including draft bills circulated in advance to lawmakers, that are not available in public domain. As many as 20 bills, including on banning the practice of triple talaq and insolvency code, uploaded in portal in advance were cited by the home ministry in its report.

The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Bill, 2019 was circulated in advance and this leads to the possibility of leak of such sensitive material which could be exploited by ‘inimical elements to the detriment of national security,’ sources citing the draft report said.

The committee also came to a conclusion with a majority view that the allegations that she accepted ‘illegal gratifications’ from Hiranandani have been clearly established, sources said, adding that it went by her own deposition and her remarks to the media.

However, in reference to the allegations that she also accepted cash from the businessman, the panel has acknowledged that it does not have the technical wherewithal and expertise to criminally investigate and unearth the money trail.

This is invariably the task of central government institutions, sources citing its observations said. The panel has recommended that any ‘quid pro quo’ could be investigated by the government in a time-bound manner.

Moitra in his comments before the committee and outside has rejected any quid-pro-quo while admitting that Hiranandani used her log-in credentials. However, she has insisted that many MPs share their log-in credential with others and asserted that she never asked any question in Lok Sabha at his behest, as alleged.

The Lok Sabha panel on Thursday recommended Moitra’s expulsion from the House.

(Published 09 November 2023, 15:49 IST)

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