Allegations against Vadra land in court as Congress targets Bhushans

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 19:30 hrs

New Delhi/Lucknow/Jaipur, Oct 11 (IANS) Allegations of wrongdoing in land deals by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and his "mango people" comment have found their way into the court with two PILs filed even as the Congress countered by accusing India Against Corruption (IAC) member Prashant Bhushan of graft.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Thursday asked the central government to respond to charges levelled against Robert Vadra by IAC member Arvind Kejriwal.

The court, which was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by activist Nutan Thakur, fixed Nov 21 as the next date for hearing.

The PIL sought a thorough probe into the charges levelled by Kejriwal and his colleagues. In her petition, Thakur told the court that she had also sent a letter to principal secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) but was sure that it would not be responded to.

Last week, Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had alleged that Vadra had benefited immensely from a quid pro quo in deals with real estate giant DLF.

In Jaipur, a complaint was Thursday filed in a lower court against Vadra for his "mango people (aam admi) in banana republic" comment on his Facebook page.

The complaint was filed by lawyer A.C. Upadhyay in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate S.K. Ojha.

Upadhyay said: "I approached the court as the remarks of Vadra are defamatory and against the Constitution of India, the court and its people. I had filed a complaint which the court has accepted."

The complaint was filed under sections 124A (sedition), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 500 and 501 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.

"The court will take up the matter for hearing Oct 18," said the officer.

Vadra had reportedly written a comment on his Facebook page Monday that read: "Mango people in banana republic...."

The comment had come two days after Kejriwal alleged that the son-in-law of the country's ruling party chief had indulged in quid pro quo real-estate deals with a realty major.

Meanwhile, the Congress targeted IAC member and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and his family members over land in Himachal Pradesh allegedly acquired by an educational society linked to him at a concessional price.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Himachal Pradesh had given away the land in Palampur worth several crores of rupees to the educational society for just a few lakhs. Some members of the Bhushan family are part of the trust.

"But no work has taken place on the land, which is a garden land. It was given away to the educational society at a cheap rate. If this is not corruption, what is?" Shukla asked.

He told reporters here that the matter was raised by Congress legislators in Himachal Pradesh, but no action had been initiated by the state government.

Reacting to Shukla's allegations, Prashant Bhushan's father Shanti Bhushan said his family had committed no wrongdoing. The allotment was made after due legal processes were adhered to, he said.

BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy sought a probe into the issues raised against Vadra by Kejriwal. "(They) need to be thoroughly investigated."

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley criticised the Congress' defence of Vadra.

"The manner in which senior ministers of the government have jumped to defend the indefensible commercial transactions of a member of the Congress party's'first family indicates that the current controversy is being utilized to display loyalty rather than to enforce probity," "aitley said.He said though politically connected people cannot be debarred from business, there was a need to see if ""hey are bonafide business transactions or favours""

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