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MPLAD scam: Panel moots suspension of 4 MPs
March 14, 2006 13:08 IST
Last Updated: March 14, 2006 14:30 IST
The four Lok Sabha members named in the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme scam got a reprieve on Tuesday, with the Parliamentary Committee, which probed it, giving them benefit of doubt and recommending that they be reprimanded and suspended till March 22.
The recommendations of the seven-member panel, chaired by V Kishore Chandra S Deo, come barely three months after the expulsion of 10 Lok Sabha members in the cash-for-query scam in the winter session of Parliament.
While maintaining that the conduct of none of the four members 'was above board and they need to be handed out appropriate punishment', it gave the benefit of doubt to the four lawmakers saying the 'improper conduct' on their part 'did not strictly speaking relate to their parliamentary duties and none of the said members was actually shown as accepting the money'".
The 51-page report recommends only suspension and not expulsion, as was done in the cash-for-query scam.
Their abstention from the House and Committees, following a direction from Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on December 20 last year, should be deemed to be their suspension from membership of the House, it said.
In the wake of Operation Chakravyuh, a sting operation shown on television, the Speaker had asked the members to stay away from the House till the inquiry was completed.
The Committee recommended that the government suitably revise guidelines governing MPLADs, with a view to plugging various loopholes and lacunae. It also asked the government to initiate steps for laying guidelines and norms for sting operators.
A suggestion made by the Committee to the government on implementation of the MPLADS scheme was that non-governmental organisations and private institutions be barred from getting any funds under the scheme.
This was because most of such NGOs are 'merely facades for unscrupulous organisations formed to usurp funds' from MPLADS, which are meant for community development works.
Under the scheme, each MP is entitled to sanction developmental projects in their respective parliamentary constituency to the tune of Rs 2 crore annually.
However, the Committee also expressed concern that the media has been indulging in 'sensationalism on a competitive basis' in a race to achieve viewership. It noted that in this case, a television channel had implied that all MPs were susceptible to corruption.
"Carrying out such operations in an unregulated manner, which cast aspersions on MPs, erodes the credibility of our democratic institutions," the Committee said, noting that 'such motivated trial by the media needs to be regulated'.