So, now even within the Parliament one can’t speak out – if it’s not to the liking of the regime.

<<The BJP on Wednesday initiated a privilege motion against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra over her remarks in the Lok Sabha concerning a former Chief Justice of India. While the TMC MP’s remarks were expunged from the record, the BJP is now seeking her dismissal from the Parliament.

PP Chowdhary, BJP MP from Rajasthan’s Pali and a former Minister of State for Law moved the privilege motion against Mahua Moitra. The request was followed in Lok Sabha by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey demanding the cancellation of Moitra’s membership of the Lower House.

On Monday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi had condemned Mahua Moitra’s remarks but did not express any intention of moving a privilege motion against her. Reports suggest that the government reconsidered its stance after Moitra posted clips of her speech in the Lok Sabha on social media.>>

(Ref.: <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/centre-moves-privilege-motion-seeks-removal-of-trinamool-mp-mahua-moitra-for-remarks-over-ex-cji-1767974-2021-02-10>.)

The speech is here, there and everywhere:

 

Here’s the tweet:

As regards outside, two fresh examples:

I/II. <https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/anti-national-online-content-mha-circular-it-act-7181760/>

II. <https://www.newsclick.in/Govt-Raids-on-Newsclick-Our-Voice-Can%E2%80%99t-be-Muzzled?amp>

In any case, Moitra just springs back!

<<You cannot bully me into silence with threats of privilege motions
You cannot abuse high office, retire,  & then hide under cover of  Article 121
Sexual harassment is not “discharge of duties”>>

 

The regime, along with its adjutants, has shed all sense of shame and lost balance too.

Evidently, a “privilege motion” would only go to further highlight how an incumbent CJI, who created a record of sorts by being the first, and as yet the only, one – in that category, to be charged with sexual harassment, got rewarded with a nomination to the Rajya Sabha and high order state security cover, soon after his retirement.

Even if there’s no broadcasting/recording and reporting is gagged.

<<A 35-year-old woman had accused Gogoi of sexual harassment in April 2019. The former junior court assistant submitted an affidavit to 22 judges of the Supreme Court outlining how the then CJI had sexually harassed her, and how she was further victimised and dismissed from her post.>>
(Ref.: <https://www.thequint.com/neon/gender/mahua-moitra-speech-in-parliament-cji-ranjan-gogoi-sexual-harassment>.)

Also relevant:

I/IV.
<<Resisting the CJI’s overtures proved to be costly to her career and her family, she claimed. She was transferred thrice to different wings of the Supreme Court before being dismissed on December 21 on a flimsy charge of abstention from work without approval, following a sham departmental inquiry in which she was not given the right to defend herself through her nominee. Worse, the inquiry was held in her absence, as she had fainted outside the inquiry room and needed to be hospitalised. She was suddenly found unfit to continue in her job although her successive annual confidential reports earlier found her “good” or “very good”. Her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom are head constables in the Delhi Police, were suspended on December 28 in connection with a criminal case involving a residential colony dispute dating back to 2012 that had been mutually resolved.

On January 11, a police officer accompanied her to the Chief Justice’s residence apparently for a “compromise” where, she alleged, Justice Gogoi’s wife asked her to apologise by prostrating on the floor and rubbing her nose at her feet. Her differently abled brother-in-law, whom the CJI appointed in his discretionary quota, too suffered dismissal without reasons on January 14. As if these were not enough, she suffered further humiliation when a complainant, Naveen Kumar, alleged to the Delhi Police that he had paid her Rs.50,000 in 2017 in return for a job in the Supreme Court and that she had cheated him.

On March 10, she alleged that the Delhi Police forcibly brought them from Rajasthan where they had gone, tortured her and her family members at the Tilak Marg police station, New Delhi, in connection with this criminal complaint. She has submitted video evidence of this incident at the police station and the audio record of the conversation between the police officials and her relatives. After spending a day in police custody, she also spent a day in judicial custody before securing bail. The Delhi Police has since sought cancellation of her bail before the Delhi High Court.>>

(Ref.: <https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/article27056334.ece>.)

II/IV.
<<The Supreme Court has reinstated in service a woman staffer who had raised sexual misconduct allegations against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that she had joined duty and proceeded on leave. All her arrears too have been cleared, the sources said.

The woman, who joined the Supreme Court in May 2014, had claimed victimisation for resisting unwelcome advances when she was posted at the residence office of former CJI Gogoi in October 2018. She claimed she was later transferred and then terminated from service.>>

(Ref.: <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/supreme-court-ranjan-gogoi-cji-sexual-misconduct-6228834/>.)

III/IV. <https://www.indialegallive.com/top-news-of-the-day/news/four-months-retirement-ex-cji-gogoi-nominated-rajya-sabha/>.

IV. <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ex-cji-gogoi-gets-z-vip-security-cover-7158025/>.

Points to be noted:

I. Criticising or even ridiculing a *former* judge doesn’t attract the charge of *contempt of court*.

II. Even otherwise, an allegation made on the floor of the Parliament enjoys immunity from both “contempt” and “defamation”.

III. A. What Mahua Moitra had said ought not to attract either, even if independently repeated outside.
B. She simply put plain facts – already available in the public domain and even discussed, together and presented.

IV. A. The move simply marks yet another low point in the journey of this regime down the path of de facto authoritarianism.
B. Most likely, would also the degeneration of the judicial order.

V. This contemplated move to expel her from the Parliament, for speaking truth to the power, is both a grave threat – as is very obvious, and an opportunity – opportunity to mobilise against the threat.
Hope we can gather that collective wisdom.

Sukla Sen is a political commentator


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One Comment

  1. Avatar Satya Vara Prasad Arundhati says:

    Through out her speech the honorable member didn’t utter even single word that lowers the dignity of house.She only stood up against gender exploitation.If they manage to just her with brute majority move will recoil against them.