2005 cash-for-question scam: 11 ex-MPs to be put on trial

A special court on Thursday framed charges against 11 former MPs in the 2005 cash-for-question scam for allegedly taking money for asking questions in Parliament. The 11 MPs were charge-sheeted and will face trial for graft and criminal conspiracy.

Special Judge Poonam Chaudhry said that charges for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy under IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act were prima facie made out against these former Parliamentarians, who were expelled in the wake of the scam, and a private person. The court directed all these 12 accused to remain present before it on August 28 for formally framing charges against them.

The 11 former MPs who are accused in the case are —Chhatarpal Singh Lodha (BJP), Anna Saheb MK Patil (BJP), Manoj Kumar (RJD), Chandra Pratap Singh (BJP), Ram Sewak Singh (Congress), Narender Kumar Kushwaha (BSP), Pradeep Gandhi (BJP), Suresh Chandel (BJP), Lal Chandra Kol (BSP), YG Mahajan (BJP), Raja Rampal (BSP). Besides them, the court has also ordered framing of charges against Ravinder Kumar. The proceedings against one of the accused, Vijay Phogat, have been abated as he has died.

Apart from the former lawmakers, two journalists of a web portal were also chargesheeted for abetting the offence under the anti-graft law. They were summoned by the trial court by the proceedings against them were quashed by the Delhi high court.

Representing the government, Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, alleged that the accused had misused their office as they were caught on camera seeking money during a sting operation for asking questions in Parliament. The sting operation against then MPs was conducted by the two journalists. It was telecast on a private news channel on December 12, 2005 and came to be known as cash-for-question scam. 

During the hearing, Lodha, Rampal and Ravinder Kumar were present in court and rest of the accused sought exemption from personal appearance for the day.