New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has granted sanction to prosecute Congress MP Raja Ram Pal in the cash-for-query scam that rocked Parliament five years ago.
The Crime Branch of Delhi Police had sent its request for sanction to prosecute Pal in July 2009, soon after the present Lok Sabha was constituted as the offence was committed during the term of the previous Lok Sabha.
In 2005, the Ethics Committee, which was asked to look into the matter, held 11 MPs guilty. The MPs were expelled from the Lok Sabha by then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. Pal, who was a BSP MP in the previous Lok Sabha was among those expelled but he managed to win the 2009 General Elections from Akbarpur in UP on the Congress ticket.
While a new Lok Sabha membership would have set the issue at rest, a High Court order for investigation into the scam led to a criminal case. The Delhi Police filed a charge sheet in June 2009 against 13 persons, including 10 former MPs.
None of the accused MPs was able to return to the Lok Sabha except Pal. This made it mandatory for the police to seek Parliament`s nod to file a charge sheet against the MP.
Kumar had sought the opinion of Attorney General G E Vahanvati as to whether the Speaker can be the competent authority to sanction prosecution against Pal. The Speaker also consulted legal experts like Fali Nariman and others on the issue.
The Attorney General had also said it was the Speaker`s prerogative to decide on whether a charge sheet should be filed against Pal. "The Speaker has granted sanction after consulting legal experts," Lok Sabha Secretariat sources said on Monday.
`Operation Duryodhan`, an expose by a private news channel in 2005, showed MPs on camera accepting money to ask questions in Parliament.