Proceedings in the Lok Sabha turned into chaos on Monday, February 8, after All India Trinamool Congress (AITCM) MP Mahua Moitra spoke on various issues including sexual harassment allegations against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. She said that the judiciary was no longer sacred.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leaders had decided to pursue an action against her for violating Parliamentary privilege and demanded that the remarks be expunged.
The BJP leaders read out Rule 352(5) of General Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha that states that 'a member while speaking should not reflect upon the conduct of a person in high authority unless the discussion is based on a substantive motion drawn in proper items.'
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal even called Moitra's comments against the former CJI 'shameful'. TMC's Saugata Roy, however, clarified that Moitra had not named anyone and that the retired CJI could not be called 'high authority'.
In her defence, the AITC MP put out a tweet saying that it would be her privilege if a breach is initiated for speaking the truth and facts.
However, the government later decided not to pursue any action or move a breach of privilege motion against Moitra, as the former CJI was no more 'higher' authority and thus, no rules were defied, LiveLaw reported.
Judiciary No Longer Sacred
Without naming the judge, Moitra said that judiciary failed the day when a sitting Chief Justice of India was accused of sexual harassment, presided over his trial, cleared himself, and further proceeded to accept a nomination to the Upper House of Parliament within three months of his retirement, along with Z plus security.
In April 2019, a woman had accused CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexually harassing her at his residence office, while working as a Junior Court Assistant in October 2018.
She had submitted a document substantiating her claims and sent a complaint to 22 judges of the apex court and called for an inquiry. The woman said Gogoi did not just harass her but was also responsible for her family's victimisation.
The woman had claimed she was transferred and then terminated from service after she alleged Gogoi of harassment. She had further alleged that she was transferred thrice within weeks, and was falsely accused in a bribery case.
Gogoi had denied the allegations during a special hearing he called the same month. He said that he did not 'deem it appropriate' to reply to the allegations but claimed they were part of a bigger plot, possibly one to 'deactivate the office of the CJI'.
Media and Judiciary Failed India
Moitra said the country's tragedy was not just that its government failed it, but the other democratic pillars – the media and the judiciary have failed too. "The sacred cow that was the judiciary is no longer sacred. It stopped being sacred when it squandered the opportunity to guard the founding principles of the Constitution," Moitra said.
Hate, Bigotry Part Of Govt's Narrative
In her speech during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address, Moitra lashed out at the central government for making 'hate, pettiness and bigotry' a part of its narrative, in what she called a 'truly fascist fashion'.
She said the government turned propaganda and disinformation into a cottage industry, whose biggest success is the cowards' casting as courageous.
Brutality Over Morality
The AITC member also alleged the government had turned the Indian democracy into a police state, where "an eminent member of the House and a veteran journalist were charged with sedition on the basis of a single dubious complaint".
She spoke about the three farm laws and how they threatened to snatch away the guarantees promised to the farmers. Highlighting the government's handling of the ongoing farmers' protests, Moitra said this clearly showed the Centre's motto of 'brutality over morality'.
"The courage to use the official channels of the Ministry of External Affairs to respond to social media posts by an 18-year-old climate activist and an American pop star," she added, referring to the Centre's response to pop-singer Rihanna and Swedish activist Greta Thunberg's tweets supporting farmers' protests.
She pointed out that the government had not deputed a single ministry to look for food, water and basic sanitation needs of the families camping at the borders of Delhi border for over two months, but had time to reply to social media posts.