“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.