India

Cash-for-Votes: Delhi Police Chargesheets Amar Singh, BJP MPs

BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter

New Delhi: The Delhi Police yesterday chargesheeted Amar Singh along with BJP leader L.K. Advani’s former aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, two former BJP MPs and two others for allegedly entering into a conspiracy to bribe MPs for their votes during the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha over the India-U.S. nuclear deal in 2008.

Delhi Police will file the status report in the Supreme Court on September 2.

The charge sheet, submitted by the Delhi Police Crime Branch along with other documents, alleges that Kulkarni was the brain behind the conspiracy to conduct the sting operation showing that the MPs had been approached and bribed to vote in favour of the trust motion. He allegedly remained in touch with the other conspirators when bribes were paid to the former BJP MPs, Phagan Singh Kuleste and Mahaveer Singh Bhagoda, and the incumbent MP Ashok Argal. The police sought sanction for prosecution from the Lok Sabha speaker to initiate proceedings against Argal for having received bribe.

According to the charge sheet filed in the court of Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, accused Sanjeev Saxena, former secretary to Amar Singh, and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activist Suhail Hindustani were also part of the conspiracy. Both are presently in judicial custody.

 

The police report alleges that at Amar Singh’s behest, Saxena bribed three BJP MPs. Suhail acted as a facilitator during the entire exercise that was videographed clandestinely by a television news channel as part of a “sting operation” allegedly masterminded by Kulkarni.

The police have submitted 1,600 pages of judicial papers and a 400-page file comprising details of the evidence that includes untampered “sting operation” tapes showing money exchanging hands. They have also come across a letter written by Amar Singh in 2008, mentioning Saxena as his secretary. For his part, Kulkarni himself has admitted to have masterminded the sting operation, the police said.

The mediapersons who carried out the operation have been made witnesses in the case. In all, the police have relied on 54 witnesses.

Shortly after the sting operation was carried out, the BJP MPs had waved wads of currency notes and placed them on the table of the House leading to much furore. The “bribe money” and recordings were then submitted to the Speaker and a Parliamentary committee that enquired into the scam had recommended a probe.

The police on August 18 told a Delhi court that the probe in the 2008 cash-for-vote scam was nearing completion and that it would file the chargesheet before it on August 25.

The crime branch of the Delhi Police told the special judge that the probe report, in pursuance of the direction of the Supreme Court, would be filed soon.

Earlier, the apex court had slammed the Delhi Police for giving a clean chit to politicians and for its ‘half-hearted and hopeless’ probe into the scam.

The Supreme Court had asked the police to take their probe to the logical conclusion and submit a final report in three weeks.

“The three weeks time given by the Supreme Court on August 5 to complete the investigation is going to end soon. We will file our chargesheet on August 25,” public prosecutor Rajeev Mohan said.

The police, however, did not file their replies to bail applications of Sanjeev Saxena and Suhail Hindustani arrested for their alleged role in the scam.

The court has fixed the hearing on both bail pleas for August 25 and also extended the judicial custody of the duo till then.

Santosh Pandey, counsel for Saxena, opposed the plea of the prosecutor that some more time be granted for filing replies to the bail pleas of the accused.

The court, however, told Pandey that it could start hearing arguments on the bail without the written replies of police.

Advocate Anand, appearing for Hindustani, said police were “deliberately suppressing” facts from the court and real accused were outside while his client, who could have been made a witness, is in jail.

“Bail cannot be held as punishment. The actual accused of this case have been roaming outside while my client has been languishing in jail for such a long time. There is nothing against me in the FIR,” he said.

The court then asked the prosecutor about the replies to the bail pleas saying it was the question of liberty of accused.

“It is a question of personal liberty of an accused. We have Article 21 of the Constitution. The bail application is pending and if he (the defence counsel) is not arguing, then I have no problem but the hearing on the bail plea cannot be deferred on the ground that the chargesheet is going to be filed,” the judge said.

The prosecutor then pleaded for adjournment till August 25 when they would also file the chargesheet.

Hindustani’s counsel accused the police of not providing them or even the court the complete facts of the case.

“What is the basis of the FIR against me? In the FIR, there is no role, no allegation against me. The recommendation of the Parliamentary inquiry committee, on the basis of which this the FIR was registered, is not on record,” the defence counsel said.

The judge then asked the police to show recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry committee which had initially probed the scam and also provide a copy to the accused.

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