That there is a concerted campaign to malign and tarnish the image of Bhushans has become obvious in the last few days. Apart from the controversy over the alleged fake CD raked up by Amar Singh, the Indian media reported on a land allotment allegations against the Bhushans without verifying the facts about the people who made such allegations and their agenda.
Below is a letter written to former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh who filed the petition against Bhushans in the Allahabad High Court.
My Dear Vikas,
I belong to 1970 batch of the School. I would have liked to congratulate you on your successes (senior counsel and Additional Solicitor General of India, etc) but have serious reservation after having witnessed the means adopted by you in courting success.
I saw your interviews in the media on the allotment of farm house plots at Noida to the Bhushans, on opposing their being members of the drafting committee and somehow felt that we did not go to the same school with the motto “For God and Country” (for Xaviers).
In your interviews with the media you projected yourself as a paragon of virtue, uprightness and transparency and found faults with the Bhushans for taking plots in Noida, implying that they had taken favours from Mayawati for PILs filed by them. You objected to their being on the drafting committee of the Jan Lokpal Bill which was with the overwhelming consent of the civil society which started the movement.
I hope you will not have any objections in answering the following inconvenient questions on the allotment of plot to you in Noida, the filing of the writ petition in Allahabad and cleverly linking it to the so-called largesse to the Bhushans and thereby questioning the appointment of Bhushans. There are some questions also on your being designated as a senior counsel of the Supreme court.
Questions relating to Noida Plot and filing of Writ Petition No 21663 dated 13th April 2011 and disposed off on 16th April 2011:
- Is it not true that you applied for the farm house plot at Noida on a public advertisement in the newspapers?
- When did you come to know that the value of the plots was four times the value mentioned in the brochure and how did you arrive at that value?
- If the value was four times the market value why did you not challenge the scheme through a PIL on account of the colossal loss to the exchequer? Why did you apply under the scheme?
- Will you kindly disclose the contents of the letters you wrote to the Noida Authorities relating to the method of allotment of plots and place it in public domain so that it can be determined that these letters were not written for the purpose of intimidating the authorities into allotting a plot to you?
- What was your grievance in the court against Noida Authority? Was it that it adopted a wrong procedure in the allotment of the plots or was it that you were allotted an inferior plot? Were Bhushans made a party or averments made to them in the petition?
- Why did you go to court on 13/4/2011 when the intimation of the reservation of plot was done by the Authority in Jan 2011? It may be mentioned that you filed the case after the notification on the drafting Committee of the Jan Lokpal bill and after Shanti Bhushan had declared his assets relating to his plot in Noida.
- What was the deficiency in your petition that it got disposed on 16/4/2011? Was it deliberate to gain publicity and to keep the plot also.
- Is it not true that the usage of the plot is for farm/agricultural/horticultural and allied purposes and that a very limited portion can be used for construction purpose?
- Is it not true that the annual rent for the plot is 9 lacs which works out to 4.5 lacs per acre? If this is enhanced to four times (the extent of undervaluation according to you) then the annual rent will be Rs 36 lacs or 3 lacs per month.. Would you agree to pay the same?
- Does not the price of Rs 1.75 crores per acre (calculate the interest cost) and 4.5 lacs per acre as rent for land for agricultural use not too expensive? In which part of the country does agriculture give this type of return? Was the bogey of undervaluation deliberate? Did you not find the valuation of 2,50,00,000 sq mtrs (two and a half crores square meters) of land granted to Jaypee for a pittance (Rs 500/sq metre) and for commercial use alright? It had a subsidy of over 1,00,000 crores and yet you did not challenge it through a PIL?
- Why did you make Bhushans your target after the filing of the case? Would it be wrong to conclude that you filed the case with the specific aim of defaming the Bhushans?
- Would you declare your asset and put it in public domain for all to see as to how much of assets you have accumulated at what price and in what time period?
I am sure you will not.
Questions relating to your elevation as a senior counsel:
- When did you join the Bar?
- When were you designated as a senior counsel?
- How many years of independent and active practice led to your becoming a senior counsel?
- How many other lawyers have become senior counsel in a similar time period?
- Do you hold the record for becoming a senior counsel in the shortest period of active practice?
- Were you selected through a transparent and a non-discretionary process?
- If not then why did you not challenge it as the situation was the same as the allotment of the plots?
- Did you enjoy the friendship of some judge at the time of your elevation?
Questions relating to your objections to the Bhushans on the drafting committee:
- How many cases have you filed in your life in public interest?
- In case any then for whom, for what cause and the fees charged?
- In how many cases you have been engaged against a PIL, for whom and the fees received?
- Were you fronting for corporate/political party or had a personal motive while opposing the appointment of Bhushans and for which you filed the case?
- If you have not done any pro bono work then what makes you a spokesperson for civil society? This has reference to your suggestion of removing the Bhushans (after filing a case having a shelf life of 4 days to gain publicity and to be given an opportunity to air your hidden agenda) and replacing them with Fali Nariman and Anil Dewan and your contention that there should not be any activist lawyers on the panel?
- Did you refer to the same Falli Nariman who defended Union Carbide in Bhopal tragedy? Anil Dewan is well known to the Bhushans and will never agree to replace them. Did you have their consent to use their name and was it not a breach of ethics of pitting one against the other!
- You might have seen Soli Sorabjee defending the Bhushans despite his differences with them. The entire legal fraternity has not said a word against them including all those eminent lawyers who have appeared against them. At least they are grateful for the hefty fees that they earned due to them and acknowledge the just causes they espouse and fight all their cases without compromising with the opposite side. To accuse them of colluding with Mayawati and receiving favours was malicious as you know that it was not true.
- Yes, Mr Shanti Bhushan may be rich but it is money honestly earned and accounted for. He has never shied away from fighting a public cause or having charged for his time while fighting a public cause.
- He never accepts money in cash and when he does, he issues a receipt and accounts for it. Though one of the highest tax payers in his category, he has never agreed to the income tax conferring any honour on him.
- The record of the Bhushans in fighting for the people of the country and the poor in terms of number of cases and the quality is unparalleled and the entire legal fraternity will not be able to add up to that number.
- If you cannot fight for the poor and making money is your sole objective then do so by ethical means and do not foul mouth honest people who have made sacrifices and shown great courage in doing so.
That is why I say that we did not go to the same school and am ashamed that you are a part of the Alumni! If I do not receive a reply I will put the letter in public domain.
(Disclosure: Shri Shanti Bhushan fought my PIL on Cogentrix case for seven days in the Supreme Court, did not charge a rupee in fees or expenses and his professional time was worth Rs 30 lacs. He also wrote the foreword to my book titled Reliance: The Real Natwar)
(PS: What was the bill for the invite at Kota House – refer below) Was it paid in cash or cheque? I hope neither of them are your clients!)
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 17:56:21 +0530
November 15, 2010
It is a moment of immense pride for all Michaelites that two amongst us Shri Raj Vikas Verma & Shri Arup Roy Choudhury have taken charge of two important PSUs namely National Housing Bank & National Thermal Power Corporation respectively. As an alumni, I thought it would be befitting that we join to celebrate this occasion. My wife Mrs. Minu Singh and myself take the pleasure of inviting your wife and you for a musical evening with drinks and dinner at Kota House, Gold & Silver Room on 5th December 2010 at 2000 hrs.
I request invitees not to extend this invite to others on your own as it is a limited number private dinner.
Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.
Look forward to seeing you all.
Best regards,[Vikas Singh] Former Additional Solicitor General of India
St. Michaels 1975 (Cambridge) batch