In what will come as a huge relief for the BJP, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday raised a question mark over the Delhi Police’s investigation into the 2008 cash-for-vote scam and granted bail to six accused, including senior party leader L K Advani’s trusted aide Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Justice M L Mehta allowed a plea made by two former BJP MPs and one sitting party legislator that they would not have planned the sting operation had they wanted some illegal gratification.
“If there was any conspiracy between the petitioners (accused), inter-se or with the bribe givers, they would not have associated themselves with CNN-IBN news channel and exposed themselves to the act of taking money before the camera.”
“I have gone through the entire voluminous charge sheet but could not find any prima facie evidence on record of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification by the three (BJP) MPs,” Justice Mehta said.
The court granted bail to two former BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora, Kulkarni and the other accused persons Sanjeev Saxena and Suhail Hindustani on furnishing personal and surety bonds of Rs 2 lakh each as condition for bail.
Sitting BJP MP Ashok Argal was also granted anticipatory bail with the same condition.
In its order, the court gave a virtual clean chit to Kulkarni saying that his role was akin to the news channel which had been absolved by the investigating agency.
The court allowed the plea of the accused BJP ex-MPs that a sting operation could not have been conducted if they were to inform the police in advance.
“With regard to petitioner Sudheendra Kulkarni, it may be noted that he was not a public servant and he was neither the giver nor the taker of money and was also not present at the time of alleged negotiations,” the court said.
On July 22, 2008, three BJP MPs created a sensation by claiming inside Parliament and waving wads of currency notes that they were bribed to vote in favour of the UPA government which was forced to seek a trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support to it following Indo-US nuclear deal.