Virtual clean chit to Cong, SP in 'cash-for-vote'

New Delhi: Congress and Samajwadi Party on Thursday virtually got a clean chit in cash-for-vote scam in a local court which was told by Delhi Police that none from the two parties had contacted Sohail Hindustani, the alleged "master orchestra" of conspiracy to bribe BJP MPs to vote in favour of Manmohan Singh government in a trust vote in 2008.

"During investigation, it has come on record that neither any leader of Congress Party has made any effort to contact Hindustani nor any SP leader contacted him to strike a deal with MPs," the crime branch of Delhi police told Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal who remanded Hindustani to police custody till tommorow.

The police said "rather it is clear that it was only Hindustani who was making repeated attempts to contact various persons to strike a deal for monetary considerations in the name of three BJP MPs".

The judge also extended the police custody of another accused Sanjeev Saxena, alleged to be a close aide of Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, till tomorrow after the prosecution submitted they both need to be confronted to complete the chain of events.

During the arguments, advocate Anand, appearing for Hindustani, accused the Delhi police of giving a clean chit to Congress party despite the fact that the probe in the case is still on.

"How can you (police) give a clean chit to Congress party at this stage of the probe? They are catching the whistle blower (Hindustani) and saving the government," Anand said refuting the charge of the probe agency that Hindustani is the main conspirator in the whole issue.

While seeking two-days police custody of both Hindustani and Saxena, public prosecutor Rajeev Mohan said July 22, 2008, was the "most unfortunate day for a democratic set up" as money was waved in Parliament during the debate on the confidence motion.

He said the seven-member parliamentary committee, constituted by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to probe the matter, had also submitted its report running into 700 pages in which they had indicted three persons for the scam--Sanjeev Saxena, Sohail Hindustani and Sudheendra Kulkarni.

The prosecutor submitted they have examined various persons in their probe into the scam saying as per the evidence and documents, Hindustani was the "master orchestra of the well-hatched conspiracy."

"Hindustani arrived in Delhi on July 20, 2008, and he was having a list of MPs whom he intended to contact to strike the deal. He was the person who came in front to encash the situation as the confidence motion was scheduled on July 22.

He contacted different persons (including one S P Gupta and a SP leader whom he called Guruji) to encash the situation," he said.

The prosecution submitted they have recorded the statement of S P Gupta who said Hindustani offered him the support of three BJP MPs on the motion of confidence to suit the interests of Congress party.

The police also referred to Hindustani's statement given before the parliamentary committee on August 12, 2008, and the statements of other witnesses, including Kulkarni and BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora.

"As per his (Hindustani's) statement before the parliamentary committee and the statemens of other witnesses, including Kulkarni, Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora, it is clear that after failing to get any success to strike a deal with Congress Party, it was Hindustani only who diverted his efforts to entrap leaders of Samajwadi Party and with this purpose, in the midnight of July 21-22, 2008, he contacted Rewati Raman Singh," the prosecution said.

Regarding Saxena, the prosecution said they have evidence in the form of video tapes in which he came to the residence of a BJP MP and had placed the bag containing currency notes on the table.

They said the same currency notes were waved in Parliament on the same day.

"We need to confront both the accused. We have two ends of a chain and to complete it, we need to interrogate them jointly.

"It is virtually impossible to complete the chain of events without joint interrogation as it is required to unearth the conspiracy ," the prosecution said while seeking remand of both the accused.

Saxena's lawyer, however, opposed the extension of remand saying the police has been probing the case for last two and half year and his client has co-operated with them.

Similarly, Hindustani's lawyer claimed the probe agency was sleeping for the last two and half years and the ground on which they are seeking the remand was vague. He added the police started working on the case only after the Supreme Court recently intervened in it.

The court, meanwhile, intervened during the arguments and pulled up the police saying "are you not supposed to do a fair investigation without orders from the Supreme Court?"

The prosecution countered these allegations saying they have interrogated some more persons in connection with the case and Hindustani has disclosed some new names to them.

Slammed by the Supreme Court for a shoddy probe into the cash-for-vote scam, Delhi Police had first arrested Saxena on July 17. It arrested Hindustani yesterday.

Saxena was then remanded in police custody for three days. He and Hindustani have been booked for various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, police said.

The case was registered in 2009 on the recommendation by a parliamentary committee which was constituted to probe the vote-for-cash scam dating back to July 22, 2008 when some BJP MPs had waved wads of currency notes on the floor of Lok Sabha claiming they were given the money to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government.