Former home minister Buta Singh insisted on Saturday that his son, arrested on bribery charges, was innocent even as detectives seized three unlicensed pistols during a search of his son's residence.
Looking haggard at a press conference in New Delhi, Buta Singh declared he was ready to be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over charges that he knew about his son Sarabjot Singh's activities. He said he also planned to move the court to prove his son's innocence.
"By all means, yes," Buta Singh said when reporters asked him if he still felt that his son Sarabjot alias Sweety Singh had done no wrong. Sweety Singh was arrested on Friday on charges that he took the first lot of a Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million) bribe from a contractor to have a case against him withdrawn by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes that Buta Singh heads.
A CBI official in Mumbai said Buta Singh, a member of the Congress party, would be questioned in connection with the corruption charges against his son, who has reportedly confessed entering into a bribe deal.
"We shall question Buta Singh and all other people whose names figure in the complaint," the official said on condition of anonymity. Sweety Singh had reportedly said that his father was aware of his bribe taking.
Sweety Singh was remanded to police custody by a Mumbai court till Aug 5 after he was caught allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 10 million from Nashik-based Ramraj Patil, a contractor accused of not paying his Dalit workers.
On Saturday, CBI officers searched the south Delhi residence of Sweety Singh and seized three unlicensed pistols and 38 cartridges, an official said while seeking anonymity.
A case under the Arms Act was registered against Sweety Singh at the Nizamuddin police station.
Buta Singh has refused to step down as chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes despite the corruption row.
He alleged that the charges were a "conspiracy" against him and his family. He said he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him of the "facts".
"I am a chairman of a constitutional forum, why would I resign? I do not know what transpired between him (other accused in the case) and my son. Under pressure (my son) would have made it (the confession)," Buta Singh said.
"The commission will go to higher courts with the complaint that the commission's functioning is being intervened... The CBI has acted on the complaint of an accused but not the commission," he added.
About the pistols found in Sweety Singh's house, Buta Singh said, "The licences are there and only he (Sweety) knows where they are."
Along with Sweety Singh, three men -- Anoop Bedi, Dukhsingh Chauhan and Madan Solanki -- were produced before Sessions Judge SPH Nagarkar in Mumbai on Friday and remanded to police custody.
According to the CBI, the corruption case against Sweety Singh follows a complaint from contractor Patil.
Patil alleged that Sweety Singh demanded a bribe of Rs 30 million for the withdrawal of a case filed against Patil by a group of conservancy workers employed by him (Patil).
Patil is a garbage collection contractor with the Nashik Municipal Corporation. Some 100 workers complained he was not paying their wages and had taken a bank loan of Rs 100 million (Rs 10 crore) in their name.