Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has been served a notice on a privilege motion moved against her, News18 reported on Monday. The notice is apparently in relation to her remarks in Lok Sabha last month on former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Moitra, however, said she was yet to receive a copy of the notice.
The notice was served based on a privilege motion moved against Moitra by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey on February 10, according to News18. The Trinamool Congress MP has been asked to file her response by March 25.
In a speech during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address on February 9, Moitra raised the matter of an allegation of sexual harassment against Gogoi in 2019, when he was the chief justice of India. Her comments were later expunged from the Parliament’s records, according to News18.
“The sacred cow that was the judiciary is no longer sacred,” Moitra had said. “It stopped being sacred the day a sitting chief justice of this country was accused of sexual harassment, presided over his own trial, cleared himself and then proceeded to accept a nomination to the Upper House of Parliament within three months of his retirement replete with Z plus security.”
In April 2019, a woman, who had earlier worked as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court, alleged in an affidavit that former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and October 11, 2018. She had sent a complaint to 22 judges of the Supreme Court on April 19, 2019 and called for an inquiry into the actions of Gogoi, who she said not only harassed her, but was also responsible for her subsequent victimisation and that of her family.
Gogoi had denied the allegations during a special hearing he called on April 20, 2019. The ex-chief justice had said he did not “deem it appropriate” to reply to the allegations but claimed they were part of a “bigger plot”, possibly one to “deactivate the office of the CJI”.
Reacting to the notice, Moitra raised questions on the rules and statutes under which the notice was served. “Why should my words be expunged?” Moitra asked in a tweet. “352 (5) LS [Lok Sabha] Rules of Procedure covers current high constitutional officers- retired judges NOT included. Art[icle] 121 [of Constitution] protects sitting judges while discharging duties- sexually harassing women NOT duty of CJI Chief Justice of India]. Now retired.”
In his complaint, Dubey had referred to Article 121 of the Constitution which says that no Supreme Court or High Court judge who has discharged their duty or passed a judgement can be discussed in the Parliament.
“...Article 121 of the constitution of India and rule 226, 227 to 80 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha which should be read along with 115 (I & II) direction of the Speaker against Mahua Moitra,” the complaint stated, according to News18.
He had also mentioned “The Rules and Procedures 352(5) of Parliament” which dictate that the conduct of people in constitutional positions cannot be questioned.
In yet another tweet, Moitra termed the notice as a “badge of honour”, for being served on International Women’s Day.