Bhushans sink deeper into controversy but fight back (Roundup)April 20th, 2011 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Fresh allegations of corruption surfaced against Lokpal bill joint committee co-chair Shanti Bhushan Wednesday. But the Bhushans fought back, demanding a public apology from Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and dismissing as “malicious” a report that they had got land from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s discretionary quota.
The former law minister and his family have been in the proverbial eye of the storm since he was appointed to the 10-member committee to draft a more stringent Lokpal (ombudsman) bill to fight corruption. His lawyer son Prashant is also member of the panel. On Wednesday, Shanti Bhushan’s other son Jayant also found himself in the headlines.
In a letter to Anna Hazare, whose fast-unto-death propelled a nationwide movement resulting in the draft committee for the Lokpal bill, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi intervened in the raging controversy to say firmly that she doesn’t “support nor encourage the politics of smear campaign” launched against civil rights activists who are part of the joint panel.
L’affaire Bhushan also saw expelled Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh as well as Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh take on the family.
Reacting to a newspaper report that he and his son Jayant had taken two plots in Noida at below-market rates, Shanti Bhushan said: “To suggest that the allotment has been obtained from any discretionary quota is totally false and misleading.”
The Bhushans have also said they would file a defamation case against the paper.
Giving procedural details of the allotment, Bhushan said: “So far, possession has not been delivered, nor the lease deal executed. It is only after the plot has been made approachable by construction of roads that possession would be delivered and lease executed.”
Bhushan said if there had been any arbitrariness, the allotments should be cancelled.
Refuting the allegation of favours from Mayawati, Bhushan said: “Both myself and my son Jayant have been fighting cases against Mayawati in courts and the question of obtaining favours from her or her government does not arise at all.
“Jayant was fighting the case against the Mayawati government on the Mayawati statues along the Noida bird sanctuary. I and Prashant Bhushan have been regularly appearing in PILs against Mayawati in the Taj corridor case even as recently as last week. These cases are still continuing.”
The battle was being fought on other fronts too.
A legal notice was sent to Digvijay Singh demanding a public apology. The notice, a copy of which was sent to Sonia Gandhi, said that Digvijay Singh had given a television interview casting aspersions on the integrity of Shanti Bhushan.
Shanti Bhushan has been in the news for the circulation of a CD, which has a man purportedly meant to be the veteran lawyer telling SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh that a judge could be “fixed” for Rs.4 crore.
Amar Singh addressed the press Wednesday to rebut Shanti Bhushan’s comment that he (lawyer) had not been in touch with him.
“Shanti Bhushan does not remember many things because of his age.” He said the SP had chartered an aircraft for the Supreme Court counsel to plead a case for the party in Lucknow.
“We gave him initial Rs.30 lakh. But he asked for more and took Rs.50 lakh in total.”
There were those who came out in support of them.
Vikas Singh, the lawyer who has challenged the allotment of the Noida land in the Allahabad High Court, said his petition did not mention the Bhushans at all.
Defending the Bhushans, activist and former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi said the Bhushan family had got land through fair means.
“The government issued a scheme, they applied for it, anybody can apply, they applied. If the matter is before the court and the court scraps it, they say let it be scrapped, so what is the issue then?” said Bedi, who was part of the movement led by Anna Hazare.
As allegations swirled around the Bhushans, the Congress distanced itself from its Uttar Pradesh chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi who asked Shanti Bhushan to step down as co-chair of the committee.
“The Congress will not comment on the matter, it is for them (Bhushans) to answer and clarify whatever charges have been made against them,” Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said.
- Fresh allegations against Bhushans, Sonia distances from smear campaign(Intro Roundup) - Apr 20, 2011
- Land not allotted through discretionary quota, say Bhushans (Lead) - Apr 20, 2011
- Bhushans said Noida land allotted through 'process' - Apr 20, 2011
- Congress refuses to back Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Bhushans - Apr 20, 2011
- I will answer Bhushan's notice in court: Digvijay Singh - Apr 21, 2011
- Bhushans must clarify themselves on CD row: Digvijay Singh - Apr 21, 2011
- Amar Singh hits out at Bhushans - Apr 20, 2011
- I will answer Bhushan's notice in court: Digvijay (Lead) - Apr 21, 2011
- Graft shadow over Lokpal panel; Civil society backs Bhushans (Intro Roundup) - Apr 22, 2011
- Shanti Bhushan sends legal notice to Congress leader Digvijay Singh - Apr 20, 2011
- Congress, SP seeks explanation over land allotted to Bhushans in Noida - Apr 20, 2011
- Bhushans should resign from Lokpal panel: Amar Singh (Lead) - Apr 21, 2011
- Lokpal Bill will be drafted irrespective of Bhushans past: Lokayukta Hegde - Apr 20, 2011
- Lokpal panelists reject resignation demand; PM says bill in July (Roundup) - Apr 21, 2011
- PM firm on Lokpal bill as Bhushans fight more taint (Evening Lead) - Apr 21, 2011
Tags: amar singh, anna hazare, arbitrariness, bhushan, bill congress, civil rights activists, congress chief, congress leader, defamation case, digvijay singh, discretionary quota, law minister, lawyer son, lease deal, member committee, newspaper report, prashant, procedural details, public apology, sonia gandhi