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Buta Singh, Kamal Nath and Jain brothers among the nine discharged in hawala case

A special court on Thursday discharged former Union ministers Buta Singh, Kamal Nath, Chand Ram and Babanrao Dhakne and five others, including the four Jain bothers, in the Rs 650 million hawala case, taking the number of those exonerated to 16.

''Prima facie I find no evidence against any of the accused persons in the four cases which can be converted into legal evidence,'' Judge V B Gupta said in his 86-page order.

Besides the Jain brothers -- S K Jain, N K Jain and B R Jain -- and their employee J K Jain, the other accused discharged was S S Sandhu, who was alleged to have been the conduit in paying Buta Singh.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had filed four separate cases against the four former ministers, with the Jains figuring as accused in all.

According to the chargesheets, the Jains had paid Rs 750,000 to Buta Singh, Rs 1.2 million to Kamal Nath, Rs 120,000 to Chand Ram and Rs 1 million to Dhakne.

The CBI, however, had failed to establish that illegal gratification was demanded and accepted by the leaders for showing official favours, the judge ruled. In fact, they had failed to establish any association between the politicians and the Jains.

Reacting to his exoneration, Buta Singh alleged former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao and former CBI director Vijay Rama Rao had implicated him in the case.

If there was any real recipient of hawala payments, it had to be Rao, he added.

Kamal Nath described his discharge as ''a judicial conclusion of political persecution'' and said he was consulting lawyers about filing a defamation suit against the CBI.

The fact that his name cropped up in the Rs 650 million case resulted in political setbacks for him, he said, including his defeat in the Chhindwara Lok Sabha by-election earlier this year. The CBI, he said, had brought his name up just because the initials 'KN' appeared in the infamous Jain diaries.

Kamal Nath said his lawyer had shown the Lok Sabha Who's Who in court to establish there were several members with the same initials. ''My case was disposed of in three-and-a-half minutes,'' he said.

The others who have already got clean chits in the case include Bharatiya Janata Party president L K Advani and former Union ministers V C Shukla, Arjun Singh, Madhavrao Scindia, N D Tiwari and R K Dhawan and former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana.


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