While the assertion of the Congress that the corruption charges levelled against Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by the BJP were “nothing new” has been widely reported in the media, the stand that only new corruption charges against its leaders will be considered has largely gone under the radar.
In a landmark move, Congress high command is mulling the prospect of issuing detailed guidelines for accusers to adhere to while making charges of corruption.
It appears that the High command has advised the party spokespersons to adhere to this stand even as the guidelines are getting fine-tuned by a standing committee constituted for this purpose. This committee is chaired by Mr. Abishek Manu Singhvi based on his experience with the Jan Lok Pal bill version 1.0.
We could get some details on the deliberations of this committee from a source who appears (on the evidence of a video released by the disgruntled driver) to be “very very close” to the chairman.
Firstly, there seems to be a broad consensus that to be considered a “new” corruption charge, it has to be about an act of commission or omission pertaining to a period not earlier than 1 January 2014.
Any charge has to be substantiated with sufficient proof and evidence that it is not politically motivated, not malicious and it is not a conspiracy to malign the concerned person’s name.
In order to make the process transparent and uniform while at the same time ensuring that the corruption charges are at appropriate levels commensurate with the posts of the accused functionaries, Mr. Beni Prasad Verma has been assigned the responsibility to fix these limits. “He has the required expertise to do this job as evidenced by his spirited defense of Salman Kurshid when he was accused of a 71 Lakh ruppee corruption” is Mr. Singhvi’s recommmendation as per the minutes of the committee meeting held recently.
If the committee report is accepted by the high command, it is even possible that the just passed Lok Pal Bill may be amended to include the provisions of the report by way of an ordinance.
All in all, a masterstroke is in the offing.