‘Ahmed Patel, not Amar Singh, gave bribe’



‘Ahmed Patel, not Amar Singh, gave bribe’ New Delhi: The person who paid money during the 2008 trust vote was Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh's counsel Ram Jethmalani, doing a U-turn, alleged in court on Monday as his client's interim bail was extended till September 27 on health grounds.

Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal extended the bail granted to the former Samajwadi Party leader, in custody for alleged involvement in the cash for votes scam and currently admitted for treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Arguing his case, Jethmalani attacked the Congress and dragged Patel into the scam. Earlier, Jethmalani had argued that since it was a sting operation mounted by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the money "must have" come from the BJP. Jethmalani is BJP's Rajya Sabha member.

"The person who paid the money was not Amar Singh but obviously Ahmed Patel... the notice could only be attributed to parties which wanted to save the government," Jethmalani said in the special court.

He said he was not trying to blame the Congress party but wanted to say that many influential members of the party were responsible for the money trail.

Jethmalani also questioned the investigating agency's conduct, asking why was Samajwadi Party MP Rewati Raman Singh not connected to the case when he was seen in the video recorded.

"Rewati Raman Singh, who was seen in the video tape and even his audio has been recorded, is neither made an accused nor a witness in the case. Whereas my client (Amar Singh), who is nowhere in the tape, is made an accused," Jethmalani said.

Pressing for Amar Singh's bail, Jethmalani said the statement of accused in the case cannot be treated as evidence.

"This is a very strange kind of scenario where the entire case is starting on the statement of the accused... statement of the accused is technically no evidence. Nowhere, throughout the camera operation one can find the face or even the voice of Amar Singh, hence there is no prima facie evidence against him," Jethmalani said.

After an hour-long argument by Jethmalani, advocate Hariharan appeared for Amar Singh and cited his medical condition while seeking bail for him.

Referring to the medical report from the AIIMS, counsel told the court that Amar Singh is suffering from loose motions and urinary tract infection, his creatinine level in blood is still high and his renal parameters are fluctuating continuously.

Some improvement was noted on September 18 as the intake of drugs has been increased. However, several tests were conducted on Monday.

"The increase in the drugs intake is making him prone to infections but if they are not given, his renal transplant will die... such is his condition. He ought to be released on bail," counsel added.

Saying that prison hospitals are not capable enough, Hariharan said that Amar Singh is in a position to get treated in private hospitals, but in custody he was only sent to the AIIMS.

"Prison hospitals are incapable of providing the treatment as far as private hospitals are concerned," said counsel while referring to a court judgment.

"My client should be given bail so that he can approach the other private hospitals," he added.

Meanwhile, the court extended the judicial custody of co-accused Sohail Hindustani till September 20.

Hindustani collapsed during the hearing inside the courtroom on Monday and was taken to the hospital.

Besides, the court has directed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani's former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, a co-accused in the case, to appear before it on September 27 without fail.

"More time is granted but no time will be granted after September 27," the judge said.

Kulkarni failed to attend the court despite his September 6 undertaking to the court.

The court will see the video clipping of the sting operation conducted in the scam on September 20.

Amar Singh was arrested on September 6 for his alleged involvement in an attempt to bribe MPs ahead of the July 2008 Parliament trust vote.

IANS