The Lok Sabha expelled former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from membership for having repeatedly committed breach of privilege and contempt of the House and committed her to jail. The historic decision awarding the unprecedented punishment came at the end of a 15-hour tumultuous debate spread over several sittings since December 8. The move to send Mrs Gandhi to prison and expel her was carried by 279 votes in favour and 138 against. Thirty-seven members abstained. The house also resolved that Mrs Gandhi’s former aide, R K Dhawan, and former chief of the CBI, D Sen, be committed to jail. Mrs Gandhi’s jail term would be effective till the prorogation of the session. This is the first time that a former prime minister has been imprisoned for breach of privilege and contempt of the house anywhere in the world. This is also the first time that a member of Parliament has been sentenced to jail by the house.
Mrs Gandhi, now expelled from the Lok Sabha, can return to the House from Chikmagalur itself or from any other constituency, legal experts say. The expulsion, they argue, does not amount to disfranchisement. Legal experts feel the present Lok Sabha cannot bar Mrs Gandhi’s entry into the House after her re-election because no person can be punished for the same crime twice. The courts can possibly intervene if it happens. Mrs Gandhi affirmed she would certainly be seeking re-election from Chikmagalur: “That is my first preference, my own constituency — Chikmagalur.”
Mrs Indira Gandhi, asked for “a message” to her women colleagues and her partymen, said: “There used to be a popular song when I was studying to England which I wish to sing: Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye/without tear to your eye/give me smile I can keep all the while when I am away.”