Pushed on the backfoot over the alleged pay-off by Ispat Private Ltd to former Union steel minister Virbhadra Singh,the Congress on Monday took the defence that entry recorded in a diary is not a valid evidence and said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley had presented the same argument in the Delhi High Court while defending former deputy prime minister L K Advani in Jain Hawala Diary case in1997. Advani was given clean chit in the case.
In their hurry and anxiety to reap cheap political benefit,(Chief Minister Prem Kumar) Dhumal and (BJP vice-president) J P Nadda have completely forgotten about the Jain Hawala Diary case,in which LK Advani and Yashwant Sinha were named for having received cash pay-off. No charges were upheld against the duo as any entry recorded in a diary is not a valid evidence,Himachal Congress vice-president Harsh Mahajan,said.
The Congress leader quoted arguments extended by Jaitley in Delhi High Court: There is no evidence against the petitioners except the diaries,note books and loose sheets of papers and these are of a nature,which cannot be converted into legal evidence against the petitioners.
Mahajan said the allegations against Virbhadra does not stand as his name has not been mentioned anywhere unlike that of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan,whos name also figured in the records recovered by the income tax officials from the steel firms office. He also demanded a probe against Chavan.
However,BJP refuted the Congresss attempt to draw parallels between the Virbhadras case and the Hawala case,even though diary entries are the main evidence in both the cases.
In an article circulated by BJP,Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has reasoned that the two cases are different and demanded that since CBI,ED staff have also been shown in the Ispat diaries as recipients of the money,only a SIT probe can bring out the truth.
Arguing that the account books recovered by the I-T department are admissible evidence,Jaitley said,These are regular books of accounts. There is a serial number,date of payment or receipt,the person to whom the payment is made,the person who authorised the payment,the quantum of money paid or received and the balance which remains in the account.
He alleges these regular books of accounts also reflect a criminal conspiracy between a bribe giver and a bribe taker.
With Himachal Assembly elections,which Congress is contesting under Singhs leadership,BJP ostensibly sees an opportunity in the case to take on the former chief minister.
Were these facts known to the Prime Minister and the Congress president when they took certain decisions with regard to Congress partys organisational changes in Himachal Pradesh? Their silence will reflect on their condonation of corruption, Jaitley said.
In Shimla,BJP spokesman Praveen Sharma,reminded Virbhadra that immediately after the Hawala allegations surfaced,Advani had resigned from all his posts. The former CM must emulate the example and resign as PCC president and withdraw from the congress campaign till he is absolved, Sharma added.
With PTI inputs