Indian politician Mahua Moitra was expelled from the lower house of the Parliament, known as the Lok Sabha, for indulging in “unethical conduct” and committing “serious misdemeanours” following a recommendation by the Ethics Committee. Moitra belongs to the opposition party, Trinamool Congress, headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.The Ethics Committee Report accused Moitra of taking bribes and luxury gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani in return for asking questions in Parliament. Additionally, the committee charged Moitra with handing over the login information for her private account on the parliamentary website so that the businessman could conveniently ask questions there. Citing national security and “contempt of the House” for sharing her user ID and password with “unauthorised persons,” the committee, headed by Vinod Sonkar, recommended her expulsion as a member of the house and declared that it lacked the technical resources to look into any potential money trail or cash advantages Moitra may have had from Hiranandani. The committee requested that the central government conduct a “time-bound, intense, legal, institutional inquiry.”The 104-page report mentions section 66, read along with section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. These provisions stipulate that revealing user ID and password in a “fraudulent and dishonest manner” is punishable by up to three years in prison, a fine of up to Rs five lakh, or both. The committee report highlighted that Moitra jeopardised national security by disclosing private login information, as several documents that could be accessed on the members’ portal were not open records. Among these documents were draft bills that were distributed to members beforehand. It stated that exchanging passwords could result in these documents ending up in the hands of foreign entities hostile to the nation.A resolution approved at the Presiding Officers Conference in October 1996 in New Delhi laid the groundwork for establishing the Ethics Committee in Parliament to oversee the members’ moral and ethical conduct and examine the cases referred to it regarding ethical and other misconduct of Members.

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