Mahua Moitra Faces Court Setback On Request To Stop Bribery Allegations

Ms Moitra, 49, was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December in the 'cash for query' case.

Mahua Moitra Faces Court Setback On Request To Stop Bribery Allegations

Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra (File).

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed Trinamool leader Mahua Moitra's request to stop Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey and lawyer Anant Dehadrai from spreading claims she accepted bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament.

Mahua Moitra was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December in the 'cash for query' case.

An ethics panel recommended the (now) ex-MP be removed after she was accused of taking bribes, including Rs 2 crore in cash and "luxury gift items", in exchange for asking questions critical of the Narendra Modi government in Parliament. She was also accused of surrendering confidential log-in credentials for the parliamentary website, so Mr Hiranandani could post questions directly.

The Ethics Committee report claimed "allegations of accepting illegal gratification (are) clearly established and are undeniable", and that "taking gifts from (a) businessman to whom she handed over log-in (details) amounts to a quid pro quo..."

This, the report said, is "...unbecoming of an MP and is unethical conduct".

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A fiery critic of the Modi administration, Ms Moitra denied the bribery charges but admitted to sharing the log-in details. She argued that sharing of these details is common practice among MPs.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Ms Moitra's party boss, called the expulsion "unacceptable" and said that "vendetta politics of (the) BJP had killed democracy".

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The Central Bureau of Investigation is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.

Last month Ms Moitra responded to the CBI's questions. The agency is now studying the answers before submitting a report to anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal, which had referred the matter.

The CBI also spoke to Mr Dehadrai and Mr Hiranandani, sources told news agency PTI.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate is also investigating Ms Moitra - for possible violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Sources said transactions linked to a non-resident external account were under its scanner, in addition to some foreign remittances and transfer of funds.

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Earlier the Delhi High Court also dismissed Ms Moitra's plea against the alleged leakage of confidential information by the ED, to the media, in relation to its investigation against her.

Appearing on her behalf, a senior counsel claimed Ms Moitra was being "hounded" and information on issuance of summons by the agency had been published in the media even before she received it.

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