In relation to its preliminary inquiry, or PE, against the leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent a notice to Supreme Court attorney Jai Anant Dehadrai, the complainant in the investigation into expelled Lok Sabha member of parliament Mahua Moitra, requesting that he appear before it on January 25, according to people familiar with the development on Tuesday.
In a notice obtained by HT on Monday, the CBI’s anti-corruption-3 section stated that Dehadrai has been invited to join the investigation team on January 25.
“As it seems that you are familiar with the details of the subject matter that is being investigated,” Regarding this, you are thus invited to appear before me on January 25, 2024, at 1400 hours, at the CBI’s office/of the Superintendent of Police, AC-III, 9th Floor, A Wing, CBI Headquarters, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, according to the notification.
In November 2023, the agency filed a preliminary inquiry (PE) against Mahua Moitra, the TMC MP, in order to look into claims that she took gifts and cash in exchange for being allowed to ask questions in parliament.
The Lokpal, the anti-corruption body that looks into complaints against public personnel, recommended that the agency inquire into the alleged “cash-for-query” case.
A PE is a formal inquiry into any matter to determine whether the CBI wishes to close it or turn it into a regular case (by submitting a First Information Report) based on the evidence that is now available, according to the agency’s guidelines.
The agency can review records and call someone in for questioning as part of the preliminary investigation, but it is not allowed to conduct searches or make arrests.
An allegation filed by lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, who claimed that Moitra accepted bribes and favours in exchange for asking questions in Parliament, prompted BJP legislator Nishikant Dubey to write to Speaker Om Birla of the Lok Sabha in October.
He went to the Lokpal the same month over Moitra’s alleged “cash-for-query” accusation.
Businessman Darshan Hiranandani is accused of receiving costly gifts from Moitra, who also allegedly underwrote the improvements to her bungalow and covered the cost of her vacations abroad. Moitra is suspected of providing the businessman with direct access to her official MP ID so he could post questions on the Lok Sabha portal on her behalf. While Hiranandani has confirmed the accusations, Moitra has refuted the claim that she was given gifts and questioned other lawmakers about whether they had ever disclosed their passwords.
A report that recommended Moitra’s expulsion from the Lok Sabha was endorsed by the ethics committee. The study detailed the impact on national security, the unethical conduct and contempt of the House that resulted from Moitra “sharing” her login credentials and password with an unauthorised person.
Adopted by a vote of 6-4, the report’s recommendations further stated that Moitra took “cash and kind, amenities and various other facilities” from businessman Hiranandani. Moitra disregarded the report’s findings. In December 2023, she was ejected from the Lok Sabha.Read more: The CBI asks Jai Anant Dehadrai to join the Mahua Moitra investigation