NATIONAL

Evidence incriminating: Bansal

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Ten members of Parliament face expulsion now that the Pawan Kumar Bansal Committee has found them guilty in the `cash-for-questions' scam.

While the majority view of the five-member Lok Sabha committee is that continuance of these MPs will be "untenable'' and the House should consider their expulsion, Vijay Kumar Malhotra (Bharatiya Janata Party) has suggested that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee instead.

Those found guilty are Annasaheb M. K. Patil, Y. G. Mahajan, Pradeep Gandhi, Suresh Chandel and Chandra Pratap Singh of the BJP; Narendra Kumar Kushwaha, Lal Chandra Kol and Rajaram Pal of the Bahujan Samaj Party; Manoj Kumar (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and Ramsevak Singh (Congress).

Dissent note

In his dissent note, Mr. Malhotra said no member could be expelled except for breach of privileges of the House and so the matter should be dealt with according to the Privileges Committee rules.

"I will not like to become party to creating a precedent by which a member can be expelled without the proper procedure being adopted." After eight sittings and questioning of all concerned including Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj of cobrapost.com, which carried out the sting operation, the committee concluded that "the evidence against the members is incriminating.'' It found no merit in their plea that the video footage was "doctored/morphed/edited."

There would have been some justification in this plea had the 10 members "accepted the offer of the committee to view the relevant footage and pointed out the interpolated portions," the report said.

The members had requested that they be provided the full footage of video recordings and all audiotapes. However, as they refused to view the relevant footage to point out discrepancies "if any,'' the committee said, the request for the "unedited and entire video footage would only lead to delaying the consideration of the matter and serve no useful purpose."

More so, as the committee viewed the unedited raw footage and found no valid reason to doubt its authenticity.

Unethical conduct

Of the view that the conduct of the members was "unbecoming of MPs and also unethical'' and describing this chapter as a "defining moment in the life of Parliament,'' the committee quoted extensively from Jawaharlal Nehru's speech on the motion for expulsion of H. D. Mudgal on September 24, 1951.

Stating that the "impeccable integrity" of MPs was imperative for the success of any democracy, the committee noted: "The waning confidence of the people in their elected representatives can be restored through prompt action alone."

On the role of the media, it endorsed the views in the First Report of the Committee of House of Commons (U.K.) on Standards in Public Life, which said: "A free press using fair techniques of investigative journalism is an indispensable asset to our democracy.''

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