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Shanti Bhushan lands in fresh controversy

New Delhi:A fresh controversy involving anti-corruption campaigner Shanti Bhushan broke out today over allotment of priced farmhouse plots to him and his son Jayant in nearby Noida and demands have cropped for the lawyer’s resignation from the joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.

Congress and Samajwadi Party questioned the allotment of farmhouses to Bhushans and suggested that Shanti Bhushan should withdraw himself from the Joint Committee to draft Lokpal Bill.

The controversy arose after reports were published today that the Bhushans have been allotted 10,000 sq metre plots valued at Rs 3.5 crore each by the UP government in 2009.

Both the Bhushans were quoted in a newspaper that there was no transparency in the scheme and allotments were made without any clear criterion. Jayant, who appeared against UP government in the case relating to installing of statues in a Noida park, also admitted that the allotment was arbitrary but there was no question of conflict for him.

Reacting to the controversy The senior Bhushan alleged that some “corrupt, important” politicians were behind the allegations as it will be impossible for them to draft a “soft” Lokpal Bill if he was present in the drafting committee, which he co-chairs.

He said he has not sought any preferential treatment or any discretionary quota for getting land alloted to him and Jayant, also a lawyer.

“Public applications were invited…It is clear that it is part of a campaign by some corrupt important politicians that if I remain on the joint committee, it will not be possible for them to draft a soft law.

“(If I am there) they will be compelled to draft a really tough law against corruption. Probably those politicians are feeling jittery. The real intention seems to be to derail the process (of drafting the Lokpal Bill),” he said.

The fresh allegations came days after the eminent lawyer was embroiled in another controversy when a “fake” CD surfaced in which he was said to be having conversations with political leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh over fixing a case. He had denied the allegations.

Vikas Singh, a former Additional Solicitor General who had applied for a farmhouse plot and filed a case in the Allahabad High Court against the allotment, said he had been writing to the Noida authorities on allotment of these developed plots for a song.

“I was raising this issue for the past six-seven months. These were not being auctioned. These are all developed areas. There will be a clamour for such plots,” he said.

In his reaction, Jayant said if there were more applicants than the plots available, then there should have been draw of lots. Reacting to the controversy, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, “We welcome the efforts of Anna Hazare on Lokpal Bill but they (Bhushans) and their family members will have to answer the questions that are being raised. This raises doubts in the mind of common people.
“If a doubt creeps once in the mind of people that a particular person does not have a very clean life, such persons should voluntarily withdraw from this process (of drafting Lokpal Bill,” she said.

She also said that there was no dearth of knowledgeable and talented lawyers as well as patriots in the country and hence any other person can be made a member of the committee.

National Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party Mohan Singh said that when Shanti Bhushan himself admitted that he had heard bribes passed hands for these allotments “then why did he accept the plots.”

“Not only his son but even Shanti Bhushan was allotted plot. According to him there was no draw for this allotment and it was done directly. He himself says that bribes passed hands for it…When the bribe was given as per confession, why did he accept such a plot,” Singh said.

Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi alleged there appeared to be powers working against the committee. “It seems that certain people do not want a Lokpal Committee. I do not understand why an issue is being made when it seems that a regular procedure was followed.”

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