New Delhi, Dec 16: Expressing deep hurt, Home Minister P Chidambaram today strongly rejected BJP's allegation that he had favoured a Delhi-based hotelier, his former client, in withdrawing three FIRs filed against him and dismissed suggestions there was any conflict of interest involved in it.
Chidambaram said since 2004, hotelier S P Gupta had made more than 40 representations to the Home Ministry requesting to withdraw the three FIRs filed against him, which were also backed by three MPs.
“I feel deeply hurt. I strongly reject completely unfounded allegations of BJP,” the Home Minister, flanked by Home secretary R K Singh and his predecessor G K Pillai, told reporters.
Chidambaram's remarks came against the backdrop of a raging controversy over the withdrawal of three FIRs against S P Gupta, who runs M/s Sunair Hotels Pvt Ltd.
The three FIRs relate to Gupta allegedly misusing the names of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and defrauding a firm - VLS Finance - to the tune of several crores of rupees.
Reports also suggested there was a conflict of interest as Gupta was a client of Chidambaram who fought his cases in the court as a lawyer. The reports also claimed that Chidambaram as a Home Minister recommended to the Delhi government to withdraw the FIRs.
However, the Delhi government yesterday had revoked its earlier decision not to press for prosecution of cases against a hotelier.
Dismissing the opposition charge of conflict of interest, Chidambaram said he can't have life long interest in over 25,000 cases he represented as lawyer in last four decades.
“This is a most ridiculous charge. I don't have any current subsisting interest with any case,” he said.
“What conflict of interests? A lawyer in his career appears in scores of cases. Does he carry interests in all the cases throughout his life? I may have appeared in one or two cases (during the said time).... But I don't have any current subsisting interest with any case,” Chidambaram said.
He said the file related to Gupta's representations came to him only once on May 4, 2011 when he recommended that the Home Ministry should not give any directions and Home Ministry may only convey the advice of the Ministry of Law.
“I have written that MHA should not give direction. We may only convey the advice of Ministry of Law,” he said.
The Home Minister said Gupta first approached the Home Ministry on July 12, 2004, when Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil was the Home Minister, requesting it to withdraw the FIRs against him.
Subsequently, the hotelier made six representations in 2005, 24 representations in 2006, six representations in 2007, two representations in 2008, 10 representations in 2009, four representations in 2010 and a few more representations in 2011.
Fully backing the Home Minister, former Home Secretary Pillai, during whose tenure the file was processed, said he favoured taking the opinion of the Ministry of Law which was endorsed by Chidambaram.
“The Ministry of Law gave its view and it was conveyed to the Delhi government,” he said.
Home Secretary Singh said the Home Minister had seen the file only once (May 4, 2011) and the file had not been submitted to him for orders at any point of time before or after that date.