Why did former solicitor general of India Goolam Vahanvati bail out Mulayam Singh Yadav at a time when the Congress and Samajwadi Party didn't see eye-to-eye? What was Amar Singh's interest in saving the UPA government? These are some of the questions posed by legal activist Vishwanath Chaturvedi in his criminal complaint against the Delhi Police's chargesheet in the cash-for-votes scam. Sheela Bhatt reports
Vishwanath Chaturvedi, the legal activist who had moved the court against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's alleged disproportionate assets, has filed a criminal complaint against former solicitor general of India Goolam E Vahanvati, former Union ministers Prithviraj Chavan and H R Bhardwaj and three CBI officers in connection with the United Progressive Alliance's 2008 trust vote.
The complaint alleges that the accused conspired "at the behest and instruction of certain individuals who stood to retain whatever 'public offices' they held prior to the crucial trust vote held in the Parliament on July 22, 2008 -- which 'public offices' were under threat of loss in the event of a failure in the trust vote held in Parliament on July 22, 2008."
At the time of the trust vote, Chavan was minister of state for personnel and training (the CBI comes under this ministry) while Bhardwaj was the law minister.
Chaturvedi's complaint seeks to rubbish completely the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police in Tees Hazari trial court in the cash-for-vote scam.
He is moving the trial court to interject in legal proceedings this fortnight to add a completely new legal angle to the politically sensitive cash-for vote scam case.
Chaturvedi wants the trial court to take his statement under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Act and wants to be the crucial witness in the case. If and when it happens, the Bharatiya Janata Party's arguments will get a legal boost.
The Delhi Police chargesheet is based on its investigations into the sting operation conducted by a private television channel to expose the 'horse trading' of Members of Parliament to save the UPA-I government.
Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and BJP veteran L K Advani's former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni have been made an accused along with three BJP MPs and a few others. Kulkarni and former BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora are presently lodged in Tihar jail. Amar Singh has been granted bail on medical grounds.
Chaturvedi's contention is that no chargesheet can stand in the court room where motive behind the crime and beneficiaries of crimes are not known or specified.
In his lengthy petition, the legal activist is trying to prove that Amar Singh was not the beneficiary of the cash-for vote scam because he was acting on behalf of his party chief (Mulayam Singh Yadav).
Chaturvedi told rediff.com, "I have documentary evidence to prove how the CBI changed the track to save Mulayam in court and how Vahnavati's so-called legal advice helped the SP chief's case by going against 'norm'. Vahanvati advised that Mulayam's assets can't be linked to assets of his wife Malti and daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav."
Vahanvati gave the legal opinion in writing that since Malti and Dimple do not hold any office of power or authority, action cannot be initiated against them.
"The chargesheet against Amar Singh, Kulkarni and others is a joke. The idea of the Delhi Police is to save the real accused. It is a joke on Indian democracy. I am going to challenge this, as I have factual evidence connected to the cash-for-vote case."
"I am saying repeatedly that the main beneficiary of the cash-for-vote scam was the UPA government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav. If there was no voting schedule, Yadav would not have got the clean chit from the CBI before the voting," he added.
Chaturvedi claims that when the Left parties quit the UPA on the issue of the nuclear deal with the United States, the government was left with 211 MPs only because 62 MPs from Left parties had withdrawn support. Samajwadi Party's 39 MPs greatly helped government to cross comfortably the magical figure of 250.
Chaturvedi says, "How can the police investigate the buying of only 19 MPs? They have to investigate how 39 MPs of the SP were bought, which became the base to move ahead to buy some more MPs."
Chaturvedi alleges that to "buy 39 MP" to save itself, the UPA government first used then Vahanvati, who gave legal advice to prepare the ground to save Yadav in his court case.
"Most shockingly, Vahanvati's recommendation that the CBI should withdraw its Interlocutory Application merely because the agency should not have investigated whether the kith and kin (of Mulayam) had held property benami for Mulayam Singh Yadav, is the grossest form of illegal and corrupt use of the office of the Solicitor General of India," says Chaturvedi in his complaint.
He says that if one examines minutely how Yadav was saved in his illegal assets case, people would understand how the trust vote inside Parliament was won by Dr Singh's government.
"In fact, there is no judgment of any court of law in any country of the world that says anything even remotely similar to the absurd proposition stated by the then Solicitor General. It is too well known and established that a corrupt public servant would often amass wealth in the name of his kith and kin and that an investigating officer who is asked to investigate whether a public servant has amassed assets disproportionate to his known source of income would be failing in his duty unless he also investigates whether such public servant has held benami property."
Chaturvedi says, "The Delhi Police has smartly gone into Amar Singh's role. They have achieved their purpose to save the real beneficiary. What was Singh's interest in saving the UPA government? He did what he did only to save his mentor, Mulayam Singh Yadav. The CBI took a U-turn only after the deal between the SP and the UPA government was struck."
"Yadav was a critic of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and had called her Videshi bahu. There was no love left between Congress and the SP at that time. Still, when they needed to save power in July 2008, the UPA government used the CBI to help Yadav and got votes of the 39 SP MPs. Without investigating this scam there is no point in the trial court moving ahead with the case against Amar Singh, Kulkarni and others."