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  • Decode Politics: Why did Nehru move expulsion motion in India’s first ‘cash-for-query’ case in 1951 | Political Pulse News

Decode Politics: Why did Nehru move expulsion motion in India’s first ‘cash-for-query’ case in 1951 | Political Pulse News

The Lok Sabha expelled Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra Friday in a “cash-for-query” case. The Ethics panel of the House that looked into the case and recommended her expulsion cited the Mudgal case of 1951 as a “past precedent” relating to “unethical conducts of the Lok Sabha”.

HG Mudgal was a Congress MP from Bombay in the provincial parliament. The Constituent Assembly exercised powers conferred by the Constitution on the two Houses of Parliament until the first general elections were held in 1952.

On June 6, 1951, the then Prime Minister and Leader of the House Jawaharlal Nehru moved a motion in the House regarding the conduct of Mudgal.

He proposed the setting up of a committee with T T Krishnamachari. Professor K T Shah, Syed Nausherali, Shrimati G Durgabai, and Shri Kashinathrao Vaidya “to investigate the conduct and activities of Shri H. G. Mudgal, Member of Parliament, in connection with certain dealings with the Bombay Bullion Association, which include canvassing in support and making propaganda in Parliament on problems like option business, stamp duty etc. and receipt of financial or business advantages from the Bombay Bullion Association”.

Nehru said the said committee would “consider and report whether the conduct of the honorable Member was derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the standards which Parliament is entitled to expect from its Members”.

Festive offer

Calling it an “unusual” motion, he said he had “hesitated” to bring it in in the first place but had carefully considered it.

How was Mudgal “making propaganda”?

Nehru said that in March that year, “information reached us” that at a Board meeting of the Bombay Bullion Association — which dealt with the trade of gold or silver in the form of coins or bars —- the President of the Association had informed the directors that Mudgal had agreed to canvass support for them for “problems” like “option business, stamp duties, etc” in exchange for Rs 20,000.

He said Mudgal had met the President of the association in Delhi, and had promised to “put questions in Parliament and thus created the necessary atmosphere for getting support to the objectives of the Bullion Association”.

Among the questions Mudgal had asked in Parliament was “whether the Government is aware of the views of the President and the Directors of the Bombay Bullion Exchange that smuggling of Bullion resulting in the loss of foreign exchange can be stopped by permitting regulated imports of Bullion”.

He had also allegedly put in a request with the then finance minister for a meeting with members of the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Nehru wrote to Mudgal on the matter. Mudgal, he said, had replied that he was connected with an organisation (H G Mudgal publications) which published the “Indian Market” and said such meetings were part of his “professional” work. He added that his organisation prepared a “pamphlet and memorandum” and had taken money for just that.

The committee started its probe on June 8 that year.

What did the committee find?

The committee, in its report, concluded that Mudgal’s conduct was “derogatory to the dignity of the

House and inconsistent with the standards…(of) Parliament”.

It said that there was “no doubt that the President and some of the Directors of the Bombay Bullion Association were under the belief that by their contact with H. G. Mudgal Publications, they would gain their objectives better, through the activities of Shri Mudgal, Member of Parliament.”

The committee said it could not separate the “two entities” —Shri Mudgal, Member of ‘Parliament and HG Mudgal Publications”.

On September 24 of that year, Nehru moved a motion in the House to expel Mudgal.

Mudgal’s response

Mudgal said he had “not done what the report of the Committee purports”.

“The report of the Committee to investigate my conduct has, of course, gone against me. If the Committee had gathered all the relevant facts, interpreted them with a judicial mind without a predetermined prejudice, and arrived at the truth, I should have been the first one to bow down to its verdict and done what honour requires me to do…But this report may as well be entirely wrong.”

He claimed that his dealings with the Bullion Association was limited to dealing with some advertorial and publicity work by a staff member. He said the questions he posted which could potentially be favourable for the Association were general and in “matter of public interest”.

After laying out his defense and participating in the debate, Mudgal submitted his resignation from the House. The House accepted the findings of the committee and said that Mudgal’s move to resign before the vote for expulsion constituted contempt of the House.

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