Rajya Sabha ethics panel takes up of Vijay Mallya issue

vijay-mallya-reuters (File) Mallya, elected to the upper house from Karnataka, is set to retire as a member on June 30 | Reuters

The Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha on Monday took cognizance of the issue of Vijay Mallya, an independent member of the upper house and business tycoon accused of defaulting on bank loans totalling Rs 9,000 crore.

This comes as Congress members once again raised slogans in the upper house demanding the government bring Mallya back, while other members read out their zero hour mentions.

Without spelling out the course of action, committee chairman Karan Singh told reporters that more meetings of the panel will be held to discuss the issue.

"The ethics committee meeting was fixed over some other issues. This morning, we got a file from Rajya Sabha chairman (Hamid Ansari). There were two other issues, but we looked into this issue as well. We have taken cognizance," he said.

The Congress leader said more meetings of the committee will be held before a decision on the matter, but refused to speak on the likely course of action.

"We will proceed as per the rules," he said.

A consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India had sought the Supreme Court's intervention to restrain the business tycoon from leaving the country, his arrest and impounding of his passport.

The apex court was, however, informed that Mallya left India on March 2.

Mallya, elected to the upper house from Karnataka, is set to retire as a member on June 30.

He was elected as an independent member in 2010 for the second term with the support of Janata Dal-Secular and Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers in the state legislature. His first term was from 2002 to 2008.

He is also a member of the parliamentary committee of commerce.

The ethics committee is tasked to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members, prepare a code of conduct for members and to suggest amendments or additions to the code from time to time.

It also examines cases concerning the alleged breach of the code of conduct by members as also cases concerning allegations of any other ethical misconduct of members, and tenders advice to members from time to time on questions involving ethical standards either suo motu or on receiving specific requests.

As per the rules of the committee, a complain can be made to the committee or the committee can take suo motu action.

The Rajya Sabha chairman may also refer any question involving ethical and other misconduct of a member to the Committee for examination, investigation and report, as it happened in this case.

If the committee is satisfied that the complaint is in proper form and the matter is within its jurisdiction, it may take up the matter for preliminary inquiry.

If a member is found to have indulged in unethical behaviour or misconduct, the committee may recommend the imposition censure, reprimand, suspension from the house for a specific period; or any other sanction determined by the committee to be appropriate.

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