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Ethics Committee in Parliament: Overview, Function, and Role



  Apr 16, 2024

Ethics Committee in Parliament: Overview, Function, and Role



Background:

The Ethics Committee is a vital parliamentary panel in the Lok Sabha, one of 36 such panels that operate throughout the year. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the ethical standards and integrity of Parliament. The Rajya Sabha established its Ethics Committee a year earlier than the Lok Sabha.

History:

⇒ The idea for Ethics Committees in both houses of Parliament and state assemblies was supported during a conference of the presiding officers of state assemblies and Parliament in October 1996.


⇒ The Rajya Sabha's Ethics Committee was established on March 4, 1997, and was inaugurated by then Vice-President and House Chairman K.R. Narayanan on May 30, 1997.

⇒ Political turmoil delayed the establishment of the Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee until May 16, 2000, under the speakership of GMC Balayogi.

Role and Functions:


⇒ The Ethics Committee oversees the moral and ethical conduct of members.

⇒ It examines cases related to ethical misconduct and other misbehaviors by the members of the Lok Sabha.

⇒ The committee handles complaints from lay citizens against lawmakers, making it distinct in its capacity to engage with public grievances.

Operational Mechanics:


⇒ Complaints against MPs can be filed by any Indian citizen, though a modification in 2014 requires these complaints to be submitted through another lawmaker. This change was made to protect MPs from frivolous allegations.

⇒ Allegations are initially assessed by the Lok Sabha Speaker, who decides whether to refer them to the Ethics Committee.

⇒ The committee then conducts hearings involving both the complainant and the accused MP, deliberates on the findings, and submits a report to the Speaker.

⇒ If punitive action is recommended, a motion is presented in the House for a vote.

Notable Case:


⇒ The committee was recently in the news due to a case involving Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, where allegations of 'cash-for-query' led to significant controversy and her storming out of a committee meeting.

⇒ This summary provides a concise overview of the Ethics Committee's purpose, historical context, functions, and a notable case, emphasizing its critical role in upholding parliamentary integrity.


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