Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2

The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee today resolved to finalize a code of ethics for members of the Lower House, a matter that has been pending for years now.

The Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha took up the agenda today and discussed the finalisation of a register of interests to be maintained by the Secretariat. A decision was taken to push the code within the term of the current committee.

What’s ironical though is – while Rajya Sabha already has a code of ethics and a register of interests for MPs, Lok Sabha has ducked the issue for long.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) which had in 2011 accessed the information on pecuniary interests of Rajya Sabha MPs under RTI, was told by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s in that same year that their request in respect of the Lower House had been forwarded to Ethics Committee for consideration.

LS records, meanwhile, show that in 2008, Lok Sabha had adopted a code of conduct that laid guidelines for MPs. The code made it mandatory for all MPs to register and declare pecuniary interests. The code was prepared by a committee constituted by late Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on May 16, 2007 to inquire into misconduct of the members of the 14th Lok Sabha.

Headed by former Congressman Kishore Chandra Deo, the committee submitted its report to then Speaker on March 31, 2008 and the Lok Sabha unanimously adopted it on October 23 that year. “Lack of political initiative delayed the implementation of the code,” Deo says.

The code was comprehensive and said, “Members shall fulfill consciously the requirements in respect of registration of their interests in the Register maintained for the purpose by the Secretariat and shall always draw attention to any relevant interest in any proceedings of the House or its committees or in any communication with Ministers, Government Departments or executive agencies.”

It added that every member would have to furnish in prescribed format to LS Secretary-General particulars of his pecuniary interests which would then be entered into the Register. The code also required MPs to not vote on a question in the House or a House Committee in which he has a direct pecuniary or personal interest.

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