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Updated: April 21, 2011 02:20 IST

Every fee paid to my father is accounted for: Prashant Bhushan

Gargi Parsai
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Prashant Bhushan. File Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The Hindu
Prashant Bhushan. File Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

“Shanti Bhushan has never met Amar Singh”

Member of the joint drafting panel on the Lokpal Bill Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday said every fee that his father and co-chair of the panel Shanti Bhushan got for providing professional services as a lawyer was accounted for and tax paid on it.

He was reacting to the charge of the former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, that the SP had paid Mr. Shanti Bhushan a fee of Rs. 50 lakh for two appearances before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the Bahujan Samaj Party anti-defection case. “Did Shanti Bhushan show the Rs. 50 lakh in his Income Tax returns of 2006? If he has, it is very good, But if he hasn't, then it is black money that we want to fight against,” Mr. Singh said at a press conference here.

Asked about the charge, Mr. Prashant Bhushan said: “My father has made a clear rule that whatever fee he is paid is deposited in the bank and receipt is issued. The money is fully accounted for and tax paid on it. If he is paid partly in cash, a receipt is given to the payee and the money is deposited in the bank and income tax is paid on it.”

Maintaining that Mr. Shanti Bhushan had never met Mr. Singh, Mr. Prashant Bhushan said that as far as his father, who is 85 years old, could recall he had never been with Mr. Amar Singh on a chartered plane. “Mr. Singh consulted him on his Rajya Sabha seat matter but then he had sent a lawyer for advice, and passed on the phone to my father to talk to Mr. Singh on the other end.”

Mr. Singh alleged that he got a chartered plane in which Mr. Shanti Bhushan flew to Lucknow to appear in the anti-defection case registered on February 28, 2006 in writ petition 5058 (MB). “He was initially paid a fee of Rs.30 lakh for two appearances in Lucknow. He said his fee was Rs. 25 lakh a day, so Virendra Bhatia, the then Advocate-General, paid him another Rs. 20 lakhs in cash in Delhi.''

According to him, Mr. Shanti Bhushan was part of the 80 advocates hired by the SP to defend its case in the High Court.

MP3 file sent by email

On Mr. Amar Singh's question how the Bhushans could have got verified the CD against Mr. Shanti Bhushan in a United States forensic lab within three days' of its appearance, Mr. Prashant Bhushan said it was a digital MP3 file which was sent by email.

The Bhushans charged Mr. Amar Singh with being involved in the fabrication of the CD and filed a contempt application against him in the Supreme Court.

To Mr. Singh's charge that the father-son duo filed PIL petitions frequently — “One files a PIL petition, then the other helps the person against the PIL”— Mr. Prashant Bhushan said, his father had never appeared against him in any case. “My father takes commercial cases but he has appeared alongside me in cases like the Narmada dam, Bhopal gas and Bofors.”

Referring to social activist Anna Hazare's appreciation of rural development work in Gujarat and Bihar, Mr. Singh said there was a feeling amongst people that the BJP was behind the crusade of civil society.

On the charge of his playing into the hands of the Congress, he said, “Yes I was with [Congress general secretary] Digvijay Singh and [Minister for Water Resources and member of joint panel on Lokpal Bill] Salman Khurshid at the opening of a school in Farokhabad by a member of my fraternity. Mr. Salman happens to be the local MP and Mr. Digvijay Singh is in charge of Uttar Pradesh Congress.”

Shanti Bhushan serves notice on Digvijay

Meanwhile, Shanti Bhushan has served a legal notice on Congress leader Digvijay Singh, demanding a public apology for levelling allegations against him on a property deal in Allahabad.

The notice served through Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal, asked Mr. Singh to publicly apologise for “incorrect allegations” made by him against Mr. Bhushan or face civil and criminal defamation cases.

“You are, therefore, called upon to immediately publicly apologise for the incorrect allegations made by you against my client failing which we will be constrained to take proceedings against you, both civil and criminal, in appropriate courts of law at your risk and cost,” the notice said.

A copy of the legal notice was also sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Mr. Singh had alleged in a television interview that Mr. Shanti Bhushan “pressurised the owner [of a property in Allahabad] to sell the property to him on highly under-valued price and also did not pay adequate duty on it and that the Uttar Pradesh government had sent a notice to him for it.

I fully support views expressed by Nataraj above. The draft should be put on the net and like Wikipedia, let one and all give their suggestions on its clauses.

from:  Karma Geddon
Posted on: Apr 22, 2011 at 11:14 IST

Congress clearly playing dirty politics here.
They will pay very heavily for it.

from:  Retheesh
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 12:54 IST

How does it matter who is in the committee to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill? Isn't it more important that we get the right draft of Jan lokpal bill and ensure it paves the way to get rid of corruption? People shouldn't lose sight of the greater goal of 'Getting rid of corruption'. We should be mindful of not only of getting this law passed by parliament but ensure it is implemented (enforced) with vigour to begin the process of reducing the corruption. I am wondering why it should take so much effort and time to get a committee formed and then even longer time to come up with a draft version of the bill. We all know that there is lots of corruption amongst politicians, bureaucrats, corporate honchos and in some measure also with ordinary people. Some of these politicians and their shenanigans with vested interest will go to any length to destroy the framing of the law. We see this in their delaying tactics, tarnishing the committee members, red taping the process, dilute and weaken the draft by introducing the various clauses etc.
Why can't the draft be made by all of us (aptly resounding with the name Jan Lokpal) by co-opting the well intentioned politicians of all stripes and including eminent lawyers, judges and civic activists in an open and transparent manner? I believe it should all be done within 2/3 weeks and should be passed by parliament immediately thereafter. All that really matters is a simple and strong, loop hole free and effective law and putting in place an enforcement mechanism with real teeth. Let us pledge to get this all done in the public space and approved by committee if necessary and passed by parliament.

from:  Nataraj
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 09:54 IST

The report says that the Samajwadi Party (SP) hired 80 lawyers to defnd its anti-defection case in the Allahabad High Court, apart from Mr. Bhushan whose fee is 25 lakks per day, raises the question of how much money does the SP have and from where has this money come.

from:  Shila Verma
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 07:21 IST

After degeneration of relationship with Mulayam Singh, Amar Singh has lost the political platform and is wandering around Congress to regain his existence in the Indian politics. Any attempt by Digvijay Singh or Kapil Sibal, who are prominent leaders of ruling Congress Party, to derail the functioning of Jan Lokpal Bill would clearly mean an attempt of the Congress Party to weaken the committee to ensure that Jan Lokpal Bill is never drafted or never comes into existence. That's why Congress is using Amar Singh in defaming civil society members of Committee. Instead of getting affected by the allegations of those who have vested interest in the present system and therefore they don't want it to be changed, members should concentrate on drafting a strong bill and get the same finally passed.

from:  A.K. Mishra
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 00:52 IST
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