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Bhushans now in land scam
ALLAHABAD/NEW DELHI, APR 20 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 21 Apr. 2011 1:37 AM IST
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After the CD controversy, there's more trouble for former law minister Shanti Bhushan. The UP government has slapped a notice on Bhushan, who is the co-chairman of the Lokpal Bill draft committee, for evading stamp duty to the tune of Rs 1.3 crore by undervaluing his property worth close to Rs 19 crore to just Rs 6.5 lakh. This bungalow in the posh civil lines area of Allahabad is in the midst a new controversy.
The administration claims Bhushan paid a stamp duty based on a property value of around Rs 6.5 lakh. But the market price of the property is assessed at close to Rs 19 crore.
During the registry, the sub-registrar found that the value of the property has been wrongly quoted as 6,67,000 as against approximately Rs 19 crore. He calculated a shortfall of approximately Rs 1.33 lakh and subsequently issued a notice in the name of Shanti Bhushan. A case under Indian Stamps Act was also registered.
The property was rented to Shanti Bushan's father since 1938. In 1966, Bhushan entered into a sale deed with Harimohan Das Tandon, the owner, to buy the bunglow for Rs 1 lakh. But the sale deed could not be executed as both parties filed a suit in the court over valuation.
Sudhir Tandon, son of Harimohan Das Tandon, said, "The property was initially given on rent to Mr. Shanti Bhushan's father Mr. Vishwamitra. But when in 1966 Mr. Shanti Bhushan approached my father for the purchase of the property, my father agreed. An amount of Rs. 1 lakh was agreed upon. Rs. 5000 was given as advance and the remaining Rs. 95,000 was to be paid at the time of the execution of the sale deed." Bhushan claims that valuation dispute was settled in court in 2000 and the house was sold to him for Rs 1 lakh.
In a statement earlier on April 15, Bhushan said according to the rules, the stamp duty on the sale of a house is on 20 times the rateable value for house tax. Since it was a tenanted property under the Rate Control Act, the rateable value was Rs. 33000 and consequently a stamp duty was paid on a value of Rs. 6.67 lakh. To insinuate that there has been of underpayment of stamp duty is absurd and scurrilous. It just shows the desperation of those seeking to derail the Lokpal bill.
Lokpal panel faces first legal hurdle
The Lokpal Bill drafting committee is just a meeting old but has encountered the first legal hurdle with a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Government notification announcing its formation.
Claiming that the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha must govern the constitution of any committee formed to draft the Bill, the petition listed a series of violations to demand quashing of the Law Ministry notification of April 8 announcing the drafting committee comprising five senior ministers in the government and five members of the civil society.
Petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma in his plea directed his attack against the father-son advocate duo suggesting that they were not fit to be on the drafting panel since reports against them of acquiring property in Allahabad illegally by influencing a civil judge to entertain a suit after 34 years which would otherwise be barred under limitation.
The petition even sought a CBI enquiry into the property amassed by the father-son duo, especially since the CD recording a purported conversation between Shanti Bhushan and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav talked about a sum of Rs. 4 crore demanded by Bhushan to influence a high court judge.
Attacking the very basis of issue of notification to form the committee, Sharma claimed that Rule 253 of the Conduct of Business Rules requires the Speaker of the House to constitute a committee and not the Government. Further, any such committee formed must comprise members of the House and civil society members, at best, could only provide suggestions or recommendations.
In addition, the petition said, “Provision of Article 53 read with Article 74, 77, and 78 of Constitution does not permit Government to notify the impugned notification as this power belongs to the President of India.” On this ground, the petition claimed the committee to be unconstitutional.
Regarding Bhushans, the petitioner referred to a news report describing how on payment of Rs. 25 lakh, prime land at 19-A Elgin Road, Allahabad worth crores of rupees, was obtained through “undue influence” on the Civil Judge Allahabad to entertain a suit for specific performance after 34 years.

 
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