Bribery charge needs inquiry, method was improper: expert

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Manish Chand
New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Shocking allegations by three BJP MPs that they were given bribes by government supporters to buy their votes in Tuesday’s trust motion need to be investigated and backed up with evidence so that the guilty are punished, former law minister and constitutional expert Shanti Bushan said. “This will have to be investigated first at the level of the speaker of the house. If the charges are proved, it will be a breach of the privilege of the house and parliament can punish the guilty as it deems fit,” Bhushan told IANS after the spectacle of BJP MPs flashing wads of notes allegedly given as bribes blitzed across TV screens.

“The speaker can deploy an external agency to investigate the bribery charge and form a committee to probe it. Once concrete evidence has been found, the guilty can be punished,” said Bhushan, a well-known lawyer.

“The accused, however, should be given a chance to present his case,” he added.

Tumult gripped the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, Tuesday afternoon as three opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs suddenly appeared in the centre of the chamber and dramatically fished out bundles of currency notes to prove their contention that lawmakers were being bribed by the government ahead of the crucial trust vote.

“In addition, the truth of the matter will have to be investigated under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It will have to be investigated by the police under the Criminal Procedure Code. The bribe-giver and his co-conspirator (if any) can be punished after adequate evidence is found,” he said.

The accusers can be subjected to narco-analysis tests to bring out the truth, he said.

Bhushan, however, said there are a lot of holes in the way the BJP MPs have claimed they were given bribes barely a couple of hours before the trust vote. Bhushan said that even if their idea was to expose the buying and selling of votes the method adopted was improper.

“They could have lodged an FIR (first information report) and called Delhi Police to get the bribe-giver arrested. Or they could have gone to the speaker with a written complaint,” he said.

“But none of these things was done. It’s a highly improper method. It shows political motivation,” he said.

“This attempt to take the money and display the money in the house is also a breach of privilege of the house,” he said.

“Parliament should also take action those people to deter attempts at defamation of the house,” he said.

He, however, set apart the latest bribery row from the one involving Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MPs in 1993 as money was traced to their bank accounts.

Underlining that it would be premature to draw any conclusions, Bhushan stressed that evidence was needed to sustain the charges. “Otherwise, public opinion should create pressure for such an investigation,” he said.

He, however, said that although the method was improper the bribery charge had brought all-pervasive corruption in public life in people’s consciousness. “The police are corrupt, most politicians are corrupt and there is corruption at just every level,” he said.

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