Kejriwal sets up ‘Lokpal’ to probe 3 members

IAC: Retd Judges A P Shah,B H Marlapalle,Jaspal Singh picked for panel,report in 3 months

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: October 20, 2012 2:38:24 am

With some of its leading activists facing various land-related allegations,India Against Corruption (IAC) today said the charges against Prashant Bhushan,Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania would be probed by a panel of three retired judges.

Arvind Kejriwal,however,ruled out suspending any of them from the IAC’s proposed political party till the inquiry is completed.

Kejriwal said the three judges — former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah,Justice (retd) B H Marlapalle and Justice (retd) Jaspal Singh — are his party’s “internal Lokpal”. They “would be requested to expeditiously inquire into these charges and give their report as early as possible,within three months,” said the IAC.

The cases will be presented to the panel by Monday. “The ombudsmen would be requested to examine in depth the allegations and material against the IAC members,their defence and give a report on whether the allegations show any illegal or immoral act being committed by the IAC members. If any member is found guilty of any illegal or immoral activity he would be expected to resign from the proposed party,” said the IAC.

Asked if the trio would be suspended since his outfit had demanded Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s resignation following allegations that his trust had misused government funds,Kejriwal replied: “They (the three IAC members) can’t influence the probe. Salmanji can do that. They are not holding any posts. In any case,we will ask the Lokpal. If the Lokpal say they should be removed,we have no problem. The question of removal comes when they can influence the probe,destroy the evidence and influence the witnesses… Do you think Anjali Damania can influence Justice A P Shah?” He said anyone can send “whatever evidence” they have to the panel. While Kejriwal did not elaborate on the allegations,he said that whenever the IAC raises an issue of corruption,it is asked about Bhushan’s land in Palampur and Gandhi’s links with builders.

Kejriwal claimed that the IAC had earlier asked the government to set up an independent inquiry to investigate the allegations against its members. “Unfortunately,the government has been more interested in mud-slinging than setting up an independent probe,” he said,adding that the three retired judges have a “reputation of high integrity and independence”.

All the three IAC members welcomed the investigation. Responding to allegations,Bhushan said he purchased land in Himachal Pradesh to build an educational institution for which the authorities had given permission.

“The government has been making all kinds of allegations,fabricating things to defame us. So we had said we are willing to face any probe by the goverment or any independent body. The government does not do anything in this direction,so we said we will form our own ombudsman,” said Bhushan.

The charges

PRASHANT BHUSHAN: Congress has demanded an inquiry into the alleged purchase of 12 acres of land meant for tea plantations in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh by an educational trust linked to Prashant Bhushan to allegedly build an educational institution.

ANJALI DAMANIA: She bought seven acres of agricultural land in Kharvandi village in Karjat,Maharashtra,in 2007 and sold it in 2011 after getting it changed to non-agricultural. This was reported by The Indian Express on Friday.

MAYANK GANDHI: He has been accused of illegalities in collusion with builders. RTI activists have alleged that Gandhi’s NGO helped his uncle’s real estate group land a major redevelopment deal in Mumbai.

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