Monday, December 2, 2013

Cash For Vote Scam: Amar Singh, 5 others walk free

Citing lack of evidence, a Delhi court on Friday discharged six of the seven accused in the cash for vote scam that rocked the Parliament five years back.

Special Judge Narottam Kaushal said, “The facts that have emerged from the record do not create sufficient grounds for proceeding against Sudheendra Kulkarni, Sohail Hindustani, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahabir Singh Bhagora, Ashok Argal and Amar Singh. However record of the case and documents submitted therewith indicate sufficient grounds for presuming that Sanjeev Saxena has committed an offence punishable under section 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act.”

Noting that the three BJP MPs “permitted cameras to be installed on their person or in their house, presupposes that they did not want to hide their activities” the court said the argument of the defence counsel that the entire episode was enactment of a drama to expose horse trading looks absolutely plausible.

The court also held that there was no direct or indirect evidence to link Amar Singh.

“Circumstances as noted above when put together do raise a suspicion regarding nexus between accused Sanjeev Saxena and Amar singh, nevertheless, the suspicion, not being supported by any admissible evidence, does not go beyond the realm of suspicion, let alone grave suspicion,” said the court.

Saxena was, however, charged with abetment as he was clearly visible on the video recording depositing the money before the MPs.

Regarding Amar Singh, the court said the circumstances against him does not go beyond the “realm of suspicion”.

On Kurkarni, the court said his part was only of introducing the TV channel’s team to Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora with the view to recording evidence of horse trading.

It also said Kulkarni had no role in the latter part of the event and that there was no direct evidence and no meeting of minds for committing illegal acts with illegal means.

It further said that the meeting of minds with the TV channel team was only to expose horse trading in Parliament.

With regard to BJP leaders Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora, the court said that by their act of inviting the TV channel and appearing before the cameras, it cannot be stated that they were indulging in any illegal activity.

The Delhi Police, in its first chargesheet filed in August 2011, had accused Amar Singh and Kulkarni of conspiring and masterminding the cash-for-vote scam to bribe some MPs ahead of a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.

The court also rejected the prosecution’s argument that their act of exposing horse trading in Parliament was a drama.

There was also no evidence to show commission of any illegal act by Sohail Hindustani, the judge said.

The case was registered in 2009 on the recommendation of a parliamentary panel which had probed the scam.

The seven persons were booked under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and for criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

The case
July 22, 2008: Three BJP members — Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ashok Argal and Mahavir Bhagora —  carry bags filled with cash, approximately amounting to Rs30 million, inside the Lok Sabha and allege it was meant to buy votes in the trust motion.

March 17, 2011: US diplomatic cables leaked on WikiLeaks and published by a newspaper purportedly say that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure majority for the UPA government in the confidence vote. Nachiketa Kapur, a political aide of Congress leader Satish Sharma, is quoted in the US embassy cables as saying that a fund of Rs50 crore had been formed to pay MPs.

Aug 25, 2011: Charge sheet against Amar Singh, Saxena, Hindustani, Sudhir Kulkarni, Kulaste and Bhagora. The court summons other accused to appear on Sep 6, 2011.

Nov 22, 2013: Amar Singh and three BJP leaders discharged from the case by a Delhi court.
Saturday, Nov 23, 2013, 8:19 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
DNA Correspondent

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