As the UPA faces allegations of bribing MPs to save its government in July 2008, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MPs bribery scandal has returned to haunt it.
The JMM and its four leaders, including Shibu Soren, have admitted before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal that the Congress had approached them to help save Narasimha Rao government in July 1993 "in national interest".JMM leaders - Shibu Soren, Suraj Mandal, Simon Marandi and Shailendra Mahto - told the tribunal that Congress voluntarily donated a total of Rs 1.02 crore in JMM's party fund "for the cause espoused by the party (JMM) and for the welfare of the people of Jharkhand." Mahto had earlier made a confessional statement before a court in Delhi in this regard.
They said: "This amount was deposited in the bank accounts in the name of executives functioning for JMM party for the reason that the party can function in that area through its office bearers."
JMM MPs have said that the "donated" amount cannot be treated as a bribe as there was nothing illegal in a big political party giving donation to a small party.
The JMM leaders' admissions have come at a time when cash-for-vote scam is being tried by a special court and several persons, including former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh is in jail for their alleged involvement in bribing BJP MPs.
The CBI had prosecuted several politicians in the case and a special court had convicted Rao and his cabinet colleague Buta Singh in the case.
But the CBI chose not to file any appeal after the Delhi high court reversed the trial court's order. On a larger question of law, the SC had held that bribe takers were protected under Article 105 of the Constitution for the vote cast in Parliament.
Earlier the Income Tax department had found the money trail in the accounts of four JMM MP's in Punjab National Bank, Naroji Nagar, New Delhi.
The department had brought to the notice of the tribunal that money was brought in 5-6 suitcases, out of which some bundles of currency notes carried slip of Canara Bank, Banglore.
But the tribunal allowed the appeals of JMM leaders and the party, "in the absence of any incriminating material having been found in course of search."