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IAC sets up panel to probe Bhushan, Damania

New Delhi(PTI): Facing allegations against its top members, India Against Corruption today announced a probe by its ‘internal Lokpal’ of three retired judges to investigate charges against Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Damania and Mayank Gandhi.

Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah and retired judges B H Marlapalle of Bombay High Court and Jaspal Singh of Delhi High Court have been named the three ombudsmen for Arvind Kejriwal’s yet-to-be named party and the cases of these three will be presented before them by Monday.

Announcing the probe, Kejriwal said they will have to quit the party if the allegations are found true. “If any member is found guilty of any illegal or immoral activity he would be expected to resign from the proposed party,” he said.

Bhushan, Damania and Gandhi welcomed the move, saying they are ready to face any probe and they have nothing to hide. A probe will clear all charges against them, they added.

Kejriwal’s announcement came after allegations were levelled against Bhushan that there were irregularities in buying of land in Himachal Pradesh, that Gandhi has links with builders and Damania’s land deals in Maharashtra were questionable.

“We have from time to time requested the government to set up an independent enquiry to investigate into the matter and give us double the punishment than prescribed if found guilty. Unfortunately, the government has been more interested in mud-slinging than setting up an independent probe.

“Therefore, we have formed an independent ombudsmen consisting of three retired judges enjoying a reputation of high integrity and independence to Inquire into any charges made against key members of IAC and they will probe Bhushan, Gandhi and Damania,” Kejriwal said.

He said they would request them to expeditiously inquire into these charges and give their report as early as possible and within 3 months.

Kejriwal said the ombudsmen would be requested to examine in depth the allegations and material against IAC members, their defense and give a report on whether the allegations show any illegal or immoral act being committed by members.

When asked whether Damania should quit IAC, Kejriwal said Damania cannot influence the probe as she is not an office bearer. “Do you think anybody can influence people like Justice Shah?” he said.

Responding to allegations, Bhushan said government has not given them anything and they purchased the land to build an educational institution for which authorities gave them permission.

“The government has been making all kinds of allegations, fabricating things to defame us. So we had said we are willing to face any probe by the goverment or any independent body. The government does not do anything in this direction, so we said we will form our own ombudsman,” he said.

In Mumbai, Damania and Gandhi told reporters that they were ready to face any probe. “If the probe finds us guilty, we will quit,” they said.

Asked about allegations against her, Damania claimed she was legally a farmer and have documents to prove it. “I have not done any ‘benami’ transactions,” she said, referring to questions about her land deals.

“We have nothing to hide. The probe will clear everything,” Gandhi said.

On former police official Y P Singh’s that he concealed information regarding Sharad Pawar’s alleged corruption while targeting BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Kejriwal said they had raised corruption charges against the NCP chief earlier and there was no point in repeating it.

He said it was “not right” on part of Singh to allege that he had not revealed evidence against Pawar while targeting BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and pointed out that they had held a press conference and demanded his removal during a fast in August.

“The allegation that we concealed the evidences are not right. There is no point in repeating the allegations. We are getting evidences from everywhere. It is easy to level allegations

“…We are selective because we are very responsible. Without evidence, we won’t raise any allegations. What Y P Singh has raised are very strong evidences and we too have raised it,” he said.

He also alleged that a farmer, whom they have named as a victim of Gadkari’s alleged land usurping in Maharashtra, has been pressurised.

At a press conference in Mumbai yesterday, Singh alleged that Kejriwal had information to expose Pawar but had concealed facts. “Details of the larger irrigation scam were not brought out,” Singh alleged.

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