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ENFORCEMENT OF ETHICAL NORMS IN LEGISLATURES

ENFORCEMENT OF ETHICAL NORMS IN LEGISLATURES

  • In India, both Houses of Parliament have on occasions acted firmly against violation of ethical principles. As early as in 1951, an ad hoc Committee of the House was appointed by the Provisional Parliament to investigate into the conduct of Shri H G Mudgal.                  ENFORCEMENT OF ETHICAL NORMS IN LEGISLATURES
  • The Committee came to the conclusion that Shri Mudgal’s conduct in accepting money and other benefits from the Bombay Bullion Association for extending certain favours to them in Parliament was derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the expected standards of behaviour.
  • Prime Minister Nehru summarized the issue succinctly, as follows:‑

Similar issues came to the fore again half a century later. In December, 2005, allegations of improper conduct, made in news telecasts of the ‘Aaj Tak’ (12th Dec. 2005) television channel, regarding the acceptance of money by ten Members of the Lok Sabha for asking questions or raising other matters in the House, were enquired into by an Enquiry Committee of the House (Committee to inquire into allegations of improper conduct on the part of some members).                                        ENFORCEMENT OF ETHICAL NORMS IN LEGISLATURES

The Committee came to the conclusion that the conduct of the said Members was unbecoming of a Member of Parliament and also unethical.

The Committee recommended the expulsion of the Members from the House, a proposal that was accepted by the House.

  • The ‘Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States’ stipulate that the Committee on Ethics would oversee the moral and ethical conduct of Members and examine cases concerning the alleged breach of the Code of Conduct by Members as also cases concerning allegations of any other ethical misconduct of members.
  • The Committee may also take up matters suo motu. If, upon enquiry, it is found that a Member has indulged in unethical behaviour or that there is other misconduct or that the Member has contravened the Code/Rules, the Committee may recommend the imposition of an appropriate sanction. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha referred the incident regarding the telecast by ‘Aaj Tak’ channel, involving one Member of the House, to the Ethics Committee.
  • The Committee came to the conclusion that the Member had contravened Code of Conduct for Members of the Rajya Sabha and acted in a manner, which seriously impaired the dignity of the House and brought the whole institution of Parliamentary democracy into disrepute. The Committee recommended the expulsion of the Member from the House and the House accepted the recommendation.
  • While the enunciation of ethical values and codes of conduct puts moral pressure on public functionaries, they need to be backed by an effective monitoring and enforcement regime. Legislatures the world over have adopted different models for this purpose. Both Houses of Parliament may consider creation of a similar office. It is envisaged that this Office would function under the Speaker. It could also assist the Ethics Committee in the discharge of its functions, provide advice to the Members when required and maintain records.                ENFORCEMENT OF ETHICAL NORMS IN LEGISLATURES

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