Amid series of allegations against eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant, activist Swami Agnivesh said the two were the "strongest link" in the fight against corruption and the controversies should not be allowed to affect the Lokpal Bill drafting committee.
"They are the strongest link because when we started this whole process nearly eight months ago, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan came forward to draft the bill together with (Karnataka Lokayukta) Justice N Santosh Hegde and (RTI activist) Arvind Kejriwal," he said.
According to Agnivesh, the Bhushans' legal acumen has served the movement well.
Asked about the duo's moral positioning vis-a-vis the controversies dogging them, he said the issues relate to "years and years back like the 1966 land they purchased in Allahabad."
"How does it concern today? You just can't dig out things and place them and time them just on the eve of the first meeting (of the Joint Drafting Committee)," Agnivesh told Devil's Advocate programme.
Refusing to term it as a "reprieve", Agnivesh said the Committee should be allowed to complete its task of drafting the Lokpal Bill by June 30 with Bhushans on board "and then everybody is free to hunt them (Bhushans), find whatsoever is wrong with them, punish them if they are guilty...don't relate the cases to the Committee".
To a poser on whether the two would have been included in the Committee had the allegations surfaced before Anna Hazare sat on a hunger strike, he said, "Had we known this six months ago, there could have been discussions about it (Bhushans' inclusion)."
Asked whether it was too late now, he said "now it is irrelevant".
On Prashant Bhushan's allegation that expelled SP leader Amar Singh was behind the controversial CD purportedly containing conversation between senior Bhushan, Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Agnivesh said Prashant was in possession of "circumstantial evidences" to back his claim.
"He will make public whenever the occasion arises," he said, adding that the CD was "very shady" without an author who refuses to come out in open as he was a "coward".