Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Friday sought to postpone her appearance before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, saying she has commitments till November 4.
The panel summoned Moitra to depose before it on October 31 in connection with the alleged cash-for-query case. On Thursday, it heard Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey, who has accused Moitra of taking bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament. Lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, whom Dubey had cited to make the allegations, was also heard.
Nearly 50 of the 61 questions asked by Moitra in the Lower House were often focused on the Adani Group, Dubey has alleged.
After recording their oral testimonies on Thursday, the ethics committee asked the Ministry of Information Technology and the Ministry of Home Affairs to submit to it all the communication between Moitra, Hiranandani and Dehadrai, reported The Indian Express.
Following this, the Trinamool Congress leader, in a letter to the chairperson of the panel, said that she has committed to attending Vijaya Dashami meetings from October 30 to November 4 in West Bengal, where Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals.
“Therefore, I request to be given time to appear in person before the committee at any date and time of the committee’s choice after November 5,” Moitra said.
She cited the example of Lok Sabha MP Ramesh Bidhuri, who had told a privileges committee that he would be unable to attend a meeting on October 10 to give oral evidence on complaints against his communal tirade against Bahujan Samaj Party leader Kunwar Danish Ali in Parliament.
“I eagerly look forward to physically attending and presenting my defence against the slanderous charges levelled against me at the next date provided by you,” said Moitra.
She said the fact that the ethics committee heard the complaints of Dubey and Dehadrai before allowing her, the alleged accused, a “chance to be heard” goes against the order of natural justice.
The MP said that she should be allowed to cross-examine Hiranandani and he must submit a verified list of the gifts and favours that she had allegedly received.
“I wish to place on record that any enquiry without the oral evidence of Shri Hiranandani will be incomplete, unfair and akin to holding a proverbial ‘kangaroo court’,” she said.
The Hiranandani Group had initially dismissed Dubey’s allegations against Moitra as having “no merit”. However, Hiranandani, the chief executive officer of the real estate company, on October 19 submitted an affidavit to the ethics committee, accusing Moitra of spreading unverified information about industrialist Gautam Adani.
Hiranandani claimed that Moitra had provided him with access to her online Lok Sabha account so that he could post questions directly on her behalf when required.
In the letter that was shared widely on social media, the businessman claimed that Moitra “thought that the only way to attack [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi is by attacking Gautam Adani and his group as both were contemporaries, and they belong to the same state of Gujarat”.