Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: Former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, who has been already facing a CD controversy, has once again come under scanner over a new controversy. Bhushan and his son, Jayant Bhushan, were allegedly given two plots in Noida by the Uttar Pradesh Government for Rs 3.5 crores, which, according to an estimate, is just one-fourth the market price.
The land was allotted to the Bhushans in 2009 as part of a scheme offered by the government “for development of farmhouses on agricultural land.” Close to 100 people reportedly qualified. The process followed by the government has been challenged in court by Vikas Singh, who has in the past served as former additional solicitor general of the UP Government. Singh alleges that the government’s allotment lacked transparency.
The fact that the Bhushans accepted the land is being questioned by some who point out that Jayant Bhushan took on Mayawati in a court case that challenged her decision to spend crores of taxpayers’ money on setting up statues of Dalit leaders, including herself in a memorial park in Noida. The environmental impact of the park had also been reviewed in court because it is located in an ecologically sensitive area. Jayant Bhushan denied that given his legal battle with Mayawati, there could be a conflict of interest in her government’s decision to offer his family two 10,000 square metre plots at massively discounted rates.
Shanti Bhushan was selected by civil society activists led by Anna Hazare to serve as the co-chairman of the Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee After a four-day hunger strike by Hazare last month, supported by lakhs of Indians, forced the government to agree that the committee that would work on the Lokpal Bill would include five activists and that one of them would head the panel along with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
However, Shanti Bhushan has rubbished these allegations saying there is no conflict of interest in the matter as Jayant had appeared against Mayawati in the matter. He, however, agreed that he did not know about the method employed to allot them the land. He also felt that if there were more number of applicants a draw or appropriate method should have been applied.
Barely 48 hours after Bhushan was named the co-chair, a CD was delivered anonymously to media houses. The CD has a conversation between three men purported to be Amar singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Shanti Bhushan.
The man purported to be Bhushan says that a judge can be bribed and that his son, Prashant, can handle this. Prashant Bhushan is also a member of the Lokpal Bill Committee
The Bhushans have said that while the voice on the CD does seem to be Shanti Bhushan’s, the CD holds spliced conversations which have been stitched together to form a dishonest narrative.