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Commitment to Ethical Conduct and Transparency by MPs

Why This Is News With the recent relocation of Parliament to a new facility, two significant matters have remained unresolved in the Lok Sabha for an extended period. These matters pertain to the behavior and conduct of Members of Parliament (MPs) themselves, emphasizing a commitment to ethical conduct and proper behavior. These issues have long been in effect for members of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's Parliament. What We'll Explore in This Article

  • The significance of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament (MPs).

  • The declaration of MPs' business interests.

Understanding the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament (MPs) The Code of Conduct represents a set of rules and principles designed to guide MPs in making decisions regarding their behavior and actions in the Parliament. These guidelines are intended to ensure that MPs conduct themselves appropriately while participating in parliamentary activities. A similar code for Union ministers was established in 1964. For MPs, the initial step involved forming Parliamentary Standing Committees on Ethics in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The roles of these committees include:

  • Examining any complaints related to the unethical conduct of a Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha member, referred to them by the respective Speaker or Chairman.

  • Formulating a Code of Conduct for members.

  • Recommending amendments or additions to the Code of Conduct as necessary.

Once the Ethics Committee submits its report to the House, it undergoes discussion and approval. Following approval, it is forwarded to the Rules Committee, which drafts rules based on the recommendations made. The Rajya Sabha established its first Ethics Committee in 1997. Since 2005, it has implemented a 14-point Code of Conduct for members, which includes principles such as:

  • Prioritizing public office responsibilities over personal interests.

  • Avoiding actions that could tarnish the reputation of Parliament and undermine its credibility.

  • Utilizing their positions to advance the well-being of the general public.

In the case of the Lok Sabha, the first Ethics Committee was formed in 2000, and a new committee has been constituted for every newly elected Lok Sabha since the 13th Lok Sabha. In 2015, the Ethics Committee was tasked with the responsibility of devising a code of conduct specifically for Lok Sabha members. In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query, the Lok Sabha recently stated that the matter of the Code of Conduct is currently under consideration by the Ethics Committee. Declaration of MPs' Business Interests Concerns about potential conflicts of interest involving MPs date back nearly a century, as far as 1925. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has outlined procedures regarding MPs' business interests:

  • When an MP serving on a Committee possesses a personal, pecuniary, or direct interest in a matter slated for consideration by that Committee, the member must disclose this interest to the Speaker through the Committee's Chairperson.

  • After reviewing the matter, the Speaker delivers a final decision.

In 2012, the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee proposed adopting a Register of Members' Interests, following the model used in the Rajya Sabha. Rule 293 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha mandates the maintenance of a 'Register of Member's Interests.' This register is accessible to members for inspection upon request and is also available to ordinary citizens under the RTI Act. The Lok Sabha Secretariat received directives to prepare a draft report on this topic. However, the preparation of such a report has remained pending since that time.

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