Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha: An Overview
Polity & Governance
31st Oct, 2023
The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee is going to take up Nishikant Dubey’s complaint against Mahua Moitra in “Cash for Query” row.
History of Ethics Committee:
- The genesis of formation of Ethics Committee in Parliament can be traced to a resolution adopted at the Presiding Officers Conference held in New Delhi in October, 1996 which desired the legislatures to explore the possibility of constituting Ethics Committee.
- In pursuance of this resolution that endeavour for setting up of Ethics Committee in Indian Legislatures began in right earnest.
- It was in Rajya Sabha that such a Committee was first established.
- The Ethics Committee, Rajya Sabha, the first such Committee by any legislature in India was constituted by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 4 March 1997, to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members and to examine the cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of Members.
- In the case ofLok Sabha, a study group of the House Committee of Privileges, after visiting Australia, the UK, and the US in 1997 to look into practices pertaining to the conduct and ethics of legislators, recommended the constitution of an Ethics Committee, but it could not be taken up by Lok Sabha.
- The 13th Speaker (G. M. C. Balayogi) constituted the First Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha on 16th May, 2000.
- The Terms of reference of this Ethics Committee (Thirteenth Lok Sabha) were:
- To oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members; and
- To examine the cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of the Members.
Structure of the Ethics Committee
- The Ethics Committee in the Lok Sabha consists of 15 members. The Speaker appoints members of the committee for one year.
|The Ethics Committee in the Rajya Sabha consists of 10 members, including its Chairman, who is nominated by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
How can a complaint be filed with Committee?
- Any person can complain against a Member through another Lok Sabha MP, along with evidence of the alleged misconduct, and an affidavit stating that the complaint is not “false, frivolous, or vexatious”. If the Member himself complains, the affidavit is not needed.
- The Committee does not entertain complaints based only on media reports or on matters that are sub judice. The Committee makes a prima facie inquiry before deciding to examine a complaint.
- The Committee presents its report to the Speaker, who asks the House if the report should be taken up for consideration.
- After examining a complaint, the committee makes recommendations to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
- Speaker may take appropriate actions, which can include issuing warnings, admonishments, or recommending the expulsion of the member from the respective house.
Limitations and criticisms:
- The Ethics Committee primarily deals with matters related to the ethical conduct of MPs. More serious complaints, such as those involving corruption or serious breaches of privilege, may be referred to other committees like the Committee on Privileges or special panels specifically established by the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha for such cases.
- The work of the Ethics Committee sometimes overlaps with the Committee on Privileges, as both committees may handle matters related to the conduct of MPs.
- The Committee on Privileges, in addition to overseeing the conduct of MPs, is responsible for safeguarding the freedom, authority, and dignity of the Parliament as a whole.
The Ethics Committee plays a crucial role in upholding the ethical standards and conduct of members of parliament and ensuring that their behaviour aligns with the principles and values of the Indian Parliament. It is part of the broader framework of parliamentary committees in India that serve various functions in the legislative process.