Cash-for-votes: Bail for Kulkarni, five others

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 16, 2011 10:50 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday granted bail to Sudheendra Kulkarni, ex-advisor to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and five others accused in the 2008 cash-for-votes scam that had rocked parliament ahead of a trust vote.

Justice M.L. Mehta said: 'All the petitioners are admitted on bail on furnishing of personal and surety bond of Rs.2 lakh each.'

The court granted bail to Kulkarni, former Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh's former aide Sanjeev Saxena and alleged political activist Suhail Hindustani.

It directed all the petitioners to cooperate in the investigation if required by the Delhi Police.

Saxena is accused of delivering Rs.1 crore to Kulaste and Bhagora, as also co-accused Ashok Argal, who continues to be a BJP MP, under a conspiracy to buy their votes for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the July 2008 trust motion.

The court also granted anticipatory bail to Argal and directed him to appear before the concerned court during the hearing of the case. The Delhi Police have received Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's nod to proceed against Argal.

The court had reserved its order Nov 14 after Delhi Police did not oppose the bail petitions of the five jailed accused in the scam.

'The honourable court may consider granting bail to all the six accused who have filed their bail applications in the court,' Delhi Police counsel Pawan Sharma told Justice Mehta during the hearing of the bail pleas of the five jailed accused and the anticipatory bail plea of Argal.

Meanwhile, the court is hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Samajwadi Party leader Rewati Raman Singh, who was summoned as an accused by the trial court judge recently.

During the course of arguments, the Delhi Police counsel said the probe into the case was over and custodial interrogation of none of the accused was required.

Argal was earlier granted exemption by the high court from appearing before the trial court, which had summoned him in response to a Delhi Police chargesheet indicting him for his alleged role in the case.

Amar Singh, who is also an accused in the case, has already been granted bail by the high court on health grounds.

The trial court, however, had dismissed the bail pleas of Kulkarni, Bhagora and Kulaste Oct 21.

Kulkarni, who had been in jail since Sep 27, had appealed against the trial court's order which rejected his bail plea saying he was the guiding star and facilitator of the conspiracy aimed at mocking the Republic of India.

Kulkarni, in his petition, had claimed that he along with the BJP MPs got involved in the sting operation conducted by a private news channel only to expose the horse trading that was going on to save the then UPA I government in the vote of trust in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.

Kulkarni has been chargesheeted under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Kulaste, who was arrested Sep 6 along with Bhagora and Amar Singh, in his petition had questioned the probe and had said that he was entitled to bail as the investigation in the case was tainted.

The trial court had also rejected bail to Hindustani on Sep 29 and Saxena, who was arrested July 17.

On July 22, 2008, Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora waved wads of currency notes in the Lok Sabha just hours ahead of a trust vote, alleging they were given the money to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government.

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