India

Cash-for-Votes: Ex-Chief Election Commissioner Moves SC for SIT Probe

Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines

New Delhi:  Former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh and 13 others have filed a petition in the Supreme Court for the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cash-for-votes scam.

Former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh

In his petition, Lyngdoh urged the apex court to direct the government to set up an independent SIT to probe the allegations and try to complete the investigations within six months.

He also pleaded that the chief of the SIT should be given absolute powers and independence to choose the best officers for the probe. The petitioners were also quoted as saying that information from the WikiLeaks cables could be used as corroborative evidence.

The petition filed through counsels Prashant Kummar and Anurag Sharma on behalf of Lyngdoh alleged that though the entire nation was shocked by the spectacle of three BJP MPs displaying wads of currency notes in Parliament as bribe money to vote in favour of the UPA during the 2008 trust vote, no action has so far been taken against the guilty persons.

It also says that though the incident had occurred on July 22, 2008, neither the Delhi Crime Branch which registered an FIR nor the chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) headed by Kishore Chandra Deo, which inquired into the allegation, had so far taken any tangible step to initiate action against those responsible for the scam.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha asked senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan to place on record the FIR relating to the case so that the matter could be considered for hearing.

Dhawan told the bench that they could not collect the copy of the FIR, as despite their best efforts like invoking the RTI Act, the government was not willing to provide the copy.

However, the bench remarked “You have approached a wrong person. Why don’t you approach the court concerned?”

The senior counsel then agreed to avail the option and sought two weeks adjournment, to which the bench agreed.

On July 22, 2008, three BJP members had placed Rs. 1 crore worth cash in the Lok Sabha alleging that it was given to them by floor managers of the UPA government to secure their support during the no-confidence motion after Left parties withdrew their support over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The BJP leaders had claimed that the floor managers had approached them through a Samajwadi Party leader. The allegation was levelled by BJP MPs Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora.

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