Justice Sharma Panel gives clean chit to 3 BJP leaders

Report submitted to Amit Shah

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, June 19: Justice (Retired) GD Sharma led Inquiry Committee into allegations of offering bribe to journalists in Leh during Lok Sabha elections has given clean chit to all three BJP leaders including Ravinder Raina, State president, Dr Narinder Singh, general secretary and Vikram Randhawa, MLC, who were accused of paying graft by the journalists followed by the Congress and some other political parties and organizations.
The Committee’s report was today submitted to BJP national president Amit Shah by party’s national vice president, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir, Avinash Rai Khanna. Shah, who is also the Union Home Minister, has accepted the report and will take decision after going through recommendations. Click here to see full report
The independent Inquiry Committee was headed by Justice (Retired) GD Sharma and comprised SS Bijral (IGP Retired) as Member and Dr Pallav Sharma, Member Secretary.
The Committee visited Leh for four days and examined number of witnesses including the local BJP leaders and also recorded the statements of Raina, Dr Singh and Randhawa before finalizing its recommendations. The eight-page report carried viewpoint of several stakeholders before reaching to the conclusion and giving its recommendations.
“We are of the firm view that three office bearers of BJP including Vikram Randhawa, Dr Narinder Singh and Ravinder Raina have not in any manner whatsoever mis-conducted themselves to pollute the fair stream of holding free and fair elections in district Leh during the period in question,”, the report signed by all three Members, said.
The report, a copy of which is in possession of the Excelsior, said it has been established beyond any manner of doubt that the allegations of giving bribe by Vikram Randhawa, BJP MLC in the presence of Dr Narinder Singh, general secretary, Ravinder Raina, State BJP president and Dorje Angchuk, district Leh BJP president, is the result of afterthought and forms a part of “criminal conspiracy” as defined under Section 120-A of RPC on the ground that persons accused of corruption have been rendered liable to face criminal investigations on the basis of registration of First Information Report (FIR) against them at Leh police station.
“The proof of giving or accepting illegal gratification is the raison d’être of the offence of bribery, which ingredient is missing in the case. In this view of the matter, 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 May 4,” the Fact Finding Committee’s report said.
The report pointed out that 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, it said.
It may be mentioned that some journalists of Leh Press Club had charged BJP leader and MLC Vikram Randhawa of giving them envelopes containing cash at the end of a press conference addressed by the BJP leaders at Singge Palace Hotel in Leh on May 2. The BJP leaders had, however, claimed that they distributed the invitation of the rally of then Defence Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman in Leh in support of BJP candidate for Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal in the envelopes.
As the issue of alleged bribery came to the limelight, BJP president Amit Shah had ordered setting up of a high-level Independent Enquiry Committee to probe the allegations.
Leh police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) in the bribery charges, which is still under investigations.
According to sources, Amit Shah, who is still BJP’s national president even after the appointment of Jagat Prakash Nadda as working president, will examine the report submitted to him by Avinash Rai Khanna in New Delhi today and take an appropriate decision.