Till now, only complaints addressed to the Ethics Committee were valid for examination

Complaints of ethical misconduct or violation of code of conduct against Rajya Sabha members can now be filed directly to the Upper House’s secretariat. Till now, only complaints addressed to the Ethics Committee were valid for examination and the change has come in 16 years.

The responsibility has been entrusted to two officials of the rank of Director and Additional Director. Rule 295 (4) of the Rules of Procedure of the House provides that a complaint should be addressed in writing to the Committee or to an officer authorised by it, but this authorisation had not been done so far. It took the Ethics Committee 16 years to carry out this authorisation.

The Committee took the decision in its very first meeting held last week chaired by BJP’s Shiv Pratap Shukla. The change, according to Mr. Shukla, has been brought on Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu’s suggestion to make the Committee more pro-active.

The Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha was constituted in March 1997 as an internal self-regulatory mechanism to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the members and to examine the cases referred to it. In its first report in 1999, it formulated a 14-point Code of Conduct for RS members which requires them not to do anything that brings disrepute to Parliament and affects their credibility; ensure that their private financial interests do not come in conflict with public interest; not to be disrespectful to any religion and work for the promotion of secular values; maintain high standards of morality, dignity, decency and values in public life, and so on .

In all the years of its existence, the Ethics Committee has only tackled three complaints — of misuse of Question Hour in 2005, misuse of MPLADS funds in 2006 and default in repayment of bank loans in 2016.

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