In the wake of the cash-for-query controversy involving Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has initiated significant changes to the access protocols for the Digital Sansad portal. This move aims to address concerns related to account security and ethical conduct in the parliamentary process.
Changes Implemented: Reports indicate that the Lok Sabha Secretariat has modified the protocols to enhance security and transparency. Notably:
- Personal assistants (PAs) of lawmakers can no longer post notices from their MP’s Digital Sansad portal account.
- PAs are restricted to saving documents as drafts, which must be submitted or posted directly by the lawmakers from their accounts.
Background: The controversy surrounding Mahua Moitra revolves around her alleged involvement in a cash-for-query scandal, leading to a recommendation for her expulsion from the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee. Accusations surfaced after BJP MP Nishikant Dubey claimed that Moitra accepted bribes to pose questions targeting the Adani Group and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moitra admitted to sharing her Digital Sansad account credentials with a businessman.
Key Protocol Changes:
- E-Notice Tab: The option for lawmakers’ PAs to file legislative documents through their accounts using the “E-Notice” tab has been removed.
- Messages Tab: The “Messages” tab, syncing documents from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats with PAs’ Sansad Portal accounts, has been eliminated.
- OTP System: A new one-time password (OTP) system has been introduced, requiring lawmakers to use it when logging in and filing notices.
Authentication Process: To enhance security, MPs are now required to use the Kavach authenticator app, similar to Google Authenticator, to access their Sansad email addresses. MPs can register their mobile numbers and those of their PAs for Kavach, allowing staff access to Sansad email and the MP’s Digital Sansad account. PAs can still access the lawmakers’ email account and use the OTP for Digital Sansad access.
Concerns and Arguments: While the new protocol addresses security concerns, questions linger about preventing MPs from sharing OTPs. Some argue for the necessity of PAs’ access to the Digital Sansad portal, emphasizing the time constraints faced by lawmakers.
Confidentiality Emphasized: In a bulletin released on November 10, Lok Sabha Secretary General Utpal Kumar Singh emphasized that replies to questions are “login and password protected on the Members’ Portal.” Members are instructed not to share them until the Question Hour concludes to maintain confidentiality.