[Cash for query row] "Will not entertain request for extension": Lok Sabha Ethics Panel asks Mahua Moitra to appear on November 2

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BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has claimed that out of the 61 questions Moitra had posed in the Lok Sabha up to that point, 50 were centered on the Adani Group. Moitra has frequently accused this business conglomerate of malpractices, especially after it was the subject of a critical report by the short-seller Hindenburg Research

In a significant development in the ongoing investigation into allegations of cash-for-query, Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra, a member of the Lok Sabha, has been formally summoned by the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee. The committee has set the date for her appearance as November 2, 2023, with no possibility of further extension.

Earlier, the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee had initially requested Moitra's presence on October 31, 2023. However, she expressed her unavailability for the said date, citing prior commitments and engagements.

In a formal communication to the committee, Ms. Moitra conveyed her eagerness to provide her testimony but suggested that the committee consider any date after November 5 for her deposition.

The committee, after careful consideration, has rejected any postponement and has upheld the November 2, 2023, date for Moitra's appearance. This decision underscores the seriousness with which the Ethics Committee is approaching the cash-for-query allegations and its commitment to a timely and thorough investigation.

"The undersigned is directed to refer to your letter dated October 27, 2023, on the above-mentioned subject/reference and to state that the Honourable Chairperson, Committee on Ethics, has acceded to your request for an extension of the date for appearing before the Committee on Ethics, i.e., rescheduling the sitting of the Committee. It has, accordingly, been decided to hear you in the above matter, in person, on November 2, 2023, at 1100 hours in Committee Room 2, Parliament House Annexe Extension, New Delhi," the panel's notification read.

The panel added that given the "seriousness of the matter", further request for extension of date would not be entertained.

"The chairperson has also directed the undersigned to convey you that keeping in view the seriousness of the matter, having implications on the dignity of Parliament as well as its Members, any further request for extension of date for appearing before the Committee, which is, rescheduling the sitting of the Committee for any reason whatsoever would not be entertained," it added.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has accused Moitra of accepting money and gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani in exchange for posing questions in Parliament. The accusations were brought to the committee's attention through an official complaint filed by Dubey with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, supported by purported 'evidence' provided by Moitra's estranged friend, Jai Anant Dehadrai.

On October 27, both Nishikant Dubey and Jai Anant Dehadrai appeared before the panel to provide their statements and testimonies.

In response to the committee's summons, Moitra conveyed her unavailability for the October 31, 2023, meeting, citing prior commitments and engagements. In a written response, she explained, "I represent the state of West Bengal, where Durga Puja stands as the most significant festival. I am already committed to participating in numerous pre-scheduled Vijaya Dashami Sammelans and meetings, both government and political, in my constituency from October 30 to November 4, 2023. Consequently, I will be unable to be present in Delhi on October 31, 2023."

Meanwhile, TMC MP Mahua Moitra has filed a defamation suit before the Delhi High Court seeking directions to restrain BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, and several social media platforms and media houses from posting, circulating, or publishing any fake and defamatory content against her. Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan withdrew to appear for Moitra after Dehadrai informed the court that he was contacted by him to withdraw the complaint against the TMC MP.

In her plea, Moitra has sought an order directing BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and Jai Anant Dehadrai to publish a retraction and an apology to the plaintiff in three English newspapers, three Hindi newspapers, and three Bengali newspapers for the false and defamatory statements and allegations” made by them against her.

Click here to read more about the Bribe for Query Scam