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Lokpal Bill co-chair caught in CD controversy

Friday April 15, 2011 10:13:29 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: A day ahead of the first meeting of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, a controversy erupted Friday over a CD allegedly containing a conversation between panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and former party leader Amar Singh.

Both Bhushan and Amar Singh have called the CD unauthorized. Bhushan has also registered a police case in the matter. In the tape, Shanti Bhushan is allegedly being approached by Amar Singh to intervene in a legal matter for Mulayam Singh.

Amar Singh, former general secretary of the Samajwadi party, told reporters that the tape is "unauthorized".

"Until the father of this tape is unknown, this tape is unauthorised. I request to not
defame anyone by making the tape public," he said.

"I don't remember anything about this tape. I have talked to Mulayam Singh many a times in the past and if I have distributed this tape then at least I will delete my voice," he added.

On whether this was a conspiracy to stall the drafting of the Lokpal Bill, he said: "I won't say whether this is a conspiracy, ask Prashant Bhushan what he has to say. I have spoken to Shanti Bhushan. I have taken his legal opinion."

"It is not important if it is my voice but the question is whether I have said anything objectionable in the tape? I don't remember anything."

In his police complaint Shanti Bhushan, a former law minister, said the CD was forged.
Bhushan registered a complaint with Indraprastha Extension police station Thursday afternoon after being informed by a journalist of a national daily about an audio compact disc carrying recordings of his alleged conversations with Yadav and Singh.

The former law minister asserted that it was "clearly a fabricated CD" as he had never spoken to the two politicians.

"The contents of the said conversation are defamatory in nature. It appears that the said CD has been fabricated in order to malign me," he said.

A copy of the complaint was also marked to Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta.

Prashant Bhushan told reporters in Noida that there has been an organized campaign against civil society members and an attempt has been made to malign them.

"For the last two days, there has been a organised campaign against civil society members in the drafting committee to malign them," he told reporters in Noida, where the civil society members under the banner India Against Corruption demanded that the entire proceedings of the meetings be videographed and the provisions of the bill as proposed by them be accepted.

"We have lodged a FIR. It is a fabricated CD," he said.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is chairman of the committee while social reformer Anna Hazare, who went on a 97-hour fast here to demand a stronger Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill to tackle corruption, is one of the five members from the civil society.

Coming out in support of Shanti Bhushan, Medha Patkar, founder of the Narmada Bachao Andolan said she believes in the Bhushans.

"We have no doubt that the CD is unauthorised. I believe in Shanti Bhshan and Prashant Bhushan. Both of them are of indomitable spirit," she said. "Let the committee start with a peaceful mind," she added.






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