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BJP probe gives clean chit to party leaders in ‘Leh bribery case’

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Jammu, Jun 20: The internal fact finding commission of the BJP Thursday released its report, giving clean chit to state party president Ravinder Raina and two other senior leaders in the alleged case of offering bribes to journalists in Leh to influence the recently held parliamentary polls in Ladakh.

The state unit of the Congress, however, outrightly rejected the probe and termed it as an attempt by the saffron party to influence the police investigation.

“The BJP leaders have not done anything wrong and that whatever has been levelled against them is totally false and baseless,” the three-member commission headed by Justice (retd.) G D Sharma said in its report, released by the party, here.

The commission was constituted last month on the directions of the BJP national president Amit Shah to look into the allegations of offering bribe to the journalists in Leh during the election campaign for the Lok Sabha seat.

The commission, whose other members include former IGP S S Bijral as member and Pallav Sharma as member secretary, has given clean chit to Raina, state general secretary Narinder Singh and MLC Vikram Randhawara as it found that they did not, in any manner, whatsoever, misconducted themselves to seek favour in any form.

On May 04, the Press Club, Leh, had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering “envelops filled with money” after a press conference on May 02, a charge denied by the party which had said the allegations were “politically motivated”.

The fact finding commission said it recorded statements of journalists, persons associated with the Press Club, local leaders and examined CCTV footage besides recording the statement of the accused BJP leaders.

The commission said it was established beyond any manner of doubt that the allegations of giving bribe by the MLC in the presence of Raina, Singh and district president Leh Dorje Angchuk “is the result of afterthought” and forms a part of “criminal conspiracy” as defined under section 120-A of RPC because the accused persons have been rendered liable to face the criminal investigation on the basis of registration of an FIR.

“We are of the firm view that the three office bearers of the BJP have not in any manner whatsoever misconduct themselves to pollute the fair stream of holding free and fair elections in district Leh during the period in question.

“The proof of giving or accepting illegal gratification is the raison d’etre of the offence of bribery, which ingredient is missing in this case,” the commission said.

The police in Leh on May 09 registered an FIR against BJP leaders in connection with bribe allegations on the directions of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Leh.

The case was registered under sections 171E (punishment for bribery) and 171F (punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of the Ranbir Panel Code (RPC) warranting investigation.

“It was expected from all the concerned local officers who were designated as election officers to conduct the parliamentary elections of Ladakh constituency and particularly of district Leh whose conduct is relevant here to address themselves about the patent unexplained delay of giving alleged bribe from May 2 to late evening of May 4.

“Under law, a legal duty is always cast on every executive officer to pass such an order in the discharge of public functions which is reasonable at the anvil of law. In case the element of reasonableness is missing the order becomes whimsical, capricious and arbitrary which is antithesis of the doctrine of rule of law,” the commission said.                   Reacting to the report of the commission, the legal cell of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) said it was an attempt by the saffron party to influence the police investigation and derail the outcome of the entire episode.                                                 “Established principle of law is that no one can be the judge of his own cause,” it said and questioned how can a private penal appointed by the political party whose own leaders are accused of being involved into the matter, being investigated by the government agency, can comment over the merit of the case.

“This is the clear attempt to influence the investigation and derail the course of law, which is an attempt to influence public opinion also,” the Congress said in a statement.  It questioned as to where was the occasion or provision to appoint such a penal and make its report public.

“Let the party defend its leader named in the episode, as nothing of the sort of any action on moral grounds is expected from the BJP. But least it can do in the matter is to allow the law to take its own course uninfluenced and uninterrupted, if the BJP has any respect to the rule of law,” the Congress said. (With PTI inputs)

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