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Ethics committee UPSC NOTE

 What is the role of ethics committee?

  • The ethics committee was constituted in 2000.

  • This committee is to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members and examine cases of ‘unethical conduct’ referred to it

  • The Committee examines complaints filed against members of the House by other members; outsiders through a member; or referred by the Speaker

  • The Committee makes a prima facie inquiry before deciding to examine a complaint and presents its report to the Speaker, who places it before the House for consideration. 

  • It must be noted that the term ‘unethical’ is not defined

  • It is left to the Committee to decide whether any act is unethical or not. 

  • In 2007, an MP accompanying his close female companion, impersonating her as his wife was considered ‘unethical’ by the Committee. 

  • It recommended suspension of the MP from 30 sittings of the House.

What are privileges committees?

  • The privileges committee or special inquiry committee examines the more serious accusations against a member

  • In 1951, a special committee found a member guilty of promoting a business interest by putting questions in return for financial benefits. 

  • It was again a special committee that inquired into the ‘cash for query’ scam of 2005 where 10 MPs of Lok Sabha were recommended for expulsion.

Is an expulsion constitutional? 

  • The Constitution under Article 101 lists down the grounds for vacation of a seat by an MP. 

  • It includes voluntary resignation, disqualification and continuous absence from the House for 60 sittings. 

  • Expulsion is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. 

  • The Supreme Court has provided conflicting judgments in this regard. 

  • In Raja Ram Pal versus Hon’ble Speaker (2007), it upheld the power of Parliament to expel its members for breach of privilege by interpreting Article 101 to include expulsion as a ground.

  • But in Amarinder Singh versus Special committee, Punjab Vidhan Sabha (2010), the Supreme Court held expulsion by the State Assembly as unconstitutional

  • It held that such scenarios would frustrate the objectives of Parliamentary democracy.

How to reconcile privileges of the House and democratic representation

  • The allegations of ‘cash for query’ against Mahua Moitra are serious in nature. 

  • Further, the citizens of the constituency would be left without a representative till next elections or a bye-election

  • It is important to preserve the 

  • It is equally imperative, if not more in a modern democracy, to ensure that democratic representation is not prejudiced for political reasons. 

  • It must be noted that Parliamentary Committee proceedings are not as detailed as a judicial case that is conducted as per the Evidence Act. 

  • Even in this case, the ethics committee is believed to have recommended legal inquiry and the CBI has already registered a preliminary inquiry

  • It would be prudent to set up fast track courts to conduct trials for such cases in a time bound manner of say 60 days. 

  • If they are convicted in such a trial, it would result in their disqualification under the Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • Otherwise, they should continue to be a member of the House.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Ethics committee UPSC NOTE
Ethics committee UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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