An unseemly controversy has come to haunt former law minister Shanti Bhushan on the eve of the first meeting of a joint panel he co-chairs with Congressman Pranab Mukherjee for drafting the Lokpal Bill.
At the centre of the storm is a CD delivered anonymously to newspaper offices, including Hindustan Times. It contains a conversation apparently between Bhushan, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh and the latter’s estranged major domo Amar Singh.
The conversation is about fixing a judge in a matter relating to Andhra Pradesh on payment of Rs 4 crore. The talk allegedly is between Mulayam and Bhushan whom Amar Singh puts on phone with his then leader.
Bhushan denied the purported conversation, calling it defamatory and an act of forgery to malign him. He filed a complaint on Thursday with the Delhi Police on being approached by a journalist who had the CD but refused to give it to him. An FIR has been registered under section 469 of the IPC (forgery for harming reputation).
“I have never been to Amar Singh’s place. I have never spoken to Mulayam Singh on phone,” insisted Bhushan. “Let the police investigate. Somebody has to go to jail for it. I can’t say (now) as to how many people will go (to jail),” he told HT.
However, a forensic analysis of the CD revealed “the conversation was continuous — without any break and (the) said audio file appears to be not tampered”.
The report by an agency that specialises in such examinations says: “It was noticed that the CD was having an audio file, named as 1.MP3 recorded on 15/01/2006 at 12.16 hours of size 2,260KB. The duration of the recording is of 1 minute and 55.559 seconds.
“The file 1.MP3 was burnt on the CD on 15/01/2006. The analysis further shows that the software 'itunes' was used for recording the said file and CD was burnt using an Apple Macintosh System,” the report continues.
When told about the forensic report obtained by HT on its own initiative, Bhushan said: “Only a part of the voice looks like mine. If you are saying the conversation is continuous, then it is a case of somebody having imitated my voice.” Amar Singh refused to comment on the plea that he had no memory of it. “I don’t remember anything. I didn’t make the CD,” he told HT. At another point, he mocked Bhushan’s advocate son Prashant Bhushan, who is seeking vacation of the SC stay to bring into public domain some earlier tapes in which Singh figures.
Recalling his own stand those tapes were fabricated, Singh said: “Ask him whether what’s good for Peter Amar Singh is good for Paul Prashant Bhushan."
Also a member of the committee for drafting the Lokpal Bill, Prashant, too, finds mention in the CD in which the senior Bhushan is heard telling the SP leader that PILs were his son’s forte. Prashant made money from such cases and was good at “managing” things.
Bhushan talks at length about rampant corruption in the judiciary. He specifically mentions in this regard the then law minister HR Bhardwaj and the chief justice of India who, as per the conversation on the CD, sought money for appointing judges.
The voice that resembles Bhushan’s is heard repeating the demand for funds for Prashant on again telling Mulayam that all judges were corrupt and were after money.