The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yesterday chargesheeted eight more persons for their alleged role in the bribing of MPs during the no confidence motion against the Narasimha Rao government on July 28, 1993. The agency claimed it had got to the bottom of the entire affair.
Among those charge sheeted are former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal and former Union minister Ajit Singh. The group of seven MPs who had crossed floors during the voting, led by former union minister Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, Anadi Charan Das, Haji Ghulam Mohammed Khan, Abhay Pratap Singh, Ram Sharan Yadav, have also been charge sheeted. One former MP, G C Munda, expired two years ago.
With the third charge sheet now, the agencys investigations have revealed that the group of seven MPs, led by Ram Lakhan had also been bribed to switch loyalties on the crucial day. Bhajan Lal is said to have played a key role in striking the deal.
CBI special counsel Gopal Subramaniam told a division bench of the Delhi High Court that the agency had insufficient evidence to frame a case against former union ministers V C Shukla, K Karunakaran and senior Congressman Jitendra Prasada. Regarding the alleged role of former Union minister V C Shukla and hotelier Lalit Suri, the CBI counsel said that no evidence had been found on their alleged involvement.
According to CBIs investigations, which has been corroborated by eyewitness accounts, Rs 40 lakh was promised to each of those who switched loyalties along with Ram Lakhan, half of which was to be paid before the voting.
The investigations have also revealed that the sum of Rs 1.4 crore, which was handed over the Ram Lakhan after the voting, was pocketed by him and not distributed among the six others.
Ajit Singh, the probe has revealed, was also handed over Rs three crore by Bhajan Lal, as part of the conspiracy for the then JD (A) members to cross the floor. However, after these payments were handed over four days before the voting took place, in three packets of Rs one crore each, Ajit Singh is said to have decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion. However, the CBI has not been able to trace the money that was allegedly received to bank accounts operated by the accused persons. The CBI is now expected to follow the charge sheet with a separate case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against all those who are alleged to have received money for the voting.
CBI counsel Subramaniam was lavish in his praise for the CBI officials - DIG Satish Chandra, SP Vivek Johri and SP Arun Sinha, and said that they had set the highest standards as officers of the court. The judges also agreed with Subramaniam. However, for the first time P N Lekhi, counsel for the petitioner Ravinder Kumar, was all praise for the detailed work done by the CBI team.
Lekhi later said that he had a tinge of regret that V C Shukla and R K Dhawan could not be nailed but said that he was happy with the end result.
Meanwhile, the CBI is yet to receive sanction from the home ministry for attachment of the property of the four accused JMM MPs - Suraj Mandal, Simon Marandi, Shibu Soren and Shailendra Mahato.
The CBI refrained from investigations against those MPs who are said to have received favours from the government for abstaining from voting on July 28, 1993 as it was not a part of the brief.
In its two earlier charge sheets, the CBI has accused former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, his cabinet colleagues Buta Singh and Satish Sharma, apart from former Karnataka Chief Minister Veerappa Moily, along with several others, of being a part of the conspiracy to bribe MPs to save the government.