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R S Panel seeks Sakshi's expulsion, holds media for contempt

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) The Ethics Committee of Rajya Sabha today recommended expulsion of Samajwadi Party MP Sakshi Maharaj from the membership of the House while giving the benefit of doubt to BSP member Mr Isam Singh in the allegations of improper conduct of implementation of MPs Local Area Development Scheme, a sting operation telecast by a news channel.

The 10 Member Committee headed by Dr Karan Singh however found the under cover NGO -- Dedicated Investigative Guild (DIG) which laid the trap and the Star News which telecast the programme -- 'Operation Charavyuh' on December 19 as virtually guilty of Contempt of the House by not disclosing the information regarding the contacts in respect of Mr Sakshi Maharaj and disobedience to the Order of the Committee.

Dismissing the regrets expressed by Sakshi Maharaj, the Committee found his conduct a 'gross misdemenour' and found him guilty of 'compromising the dignity of the House and its members' by acting in a manner which was inconsistent with the standards which the House was entitled to expect from the Member. ''It was immaterial if the money change hands or not and whether any commission was actually paid or not,'' the Committee said in its 32-page report submitted to the Parliament this morning.

Since Sakshi Maharaj has brought the House and its members direpute to the House and its members and had contravened the code of conduct for the Member of Rajya Sabha, the Committee felt that he forfeited its right to continue as a member.

The panel however spared Mr Isam Singh as it had found that the charges of misconduct and breach of code of conduct could not be sustained. The member neither asked for the commission despite repeated inducements by representatives of investigating team. The Committee, however, expressed its displeasure about Mr Singh engaged in long drawn conversation with the undercover NGO. ''Although he has been exonerated by the Committee, he ought to have refused the offer of of bribe/commission aggressively and unambiguously,'' the report observed.

He should have curtly refused the offer in the first instance and should have asked them to leave the place and summoned the police if they were to refuse. ''The Committee will expect such a reaction in such situations in future vis-a-vis a Member of the House,'' the report said.

The panel accepted the notices of Mr Singh against the undercover NGO and the news channel, as per the wishes of the Chairman for associating other MPs who had allegedly accepted the commission for recommending works under the MPLAD scheme. The newspaper reports on the 'Operation Charavyuh' and his photographs not only cast aspersions on his conduct as an MP but also damaged his reputation among the public, the Committee observed. The actions of the investigation company and the broadcaster tantamout to tarnishing the image of the member causing incalculable damage to his reputation. Since the Committee does not have the mandate to examine questions of breach of privilege, it recommended Mr Singh's complaint to the Committee of Privileges for 'further examination and report', the panel said.

Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Mr Nilotpal Basu, Mr Janeshwar Mishra, Mr P G Narayanan, Mr R Chandra Shekhara Reddy, Prof Ramdeo Bhandari, Miss Mayawati, Mr B J Panda and Dr Bimal Jalan are the members of the Panel.

Eds: here pick up suitably from earlier series.

UNI MCN RP BD1652

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