South Asia

Indian 'cash for votes' MP Amar Singh freed on bail

Amar Singh, Indian MP
Image caption Amar Singh - who denies wrongdoing - was first arrested on 6 September

Indian MP Amar Singh, arrested in connection with an alleged cash-for-votes scandal, has been freed on bail on health grounds.

The court has taken his passport and ordered him to deposit a personal bond of 5m rupees ($100,000; £63,000).

Mr Singh has spent most of his time in detention receiving hospital treatment.

He is charged with offering cash to other MPs to abstain from taking part in a crucial 2008 confidence vote. Mr Singh denies the bribery charge.

Last month, he applied for "interim bail" on health grounds from his hospital bed and the court granted him bail for a few days.

First arrested on 6 September, Mr Singh is a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.

The Delhi high court order on Monday was based on a report from a top Delhi hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where Mr Singh is being treated.

According to reports, doctors said the MP's condition was critical and that he needed constant monitoring.

He underwent a kidney transplant last year in Singapore and had told the court that he needed intensive medical care.


At the time of the vote, Mr Singh belonged to the Socialist Party, a Congress government ally.

Five other people, including two former opposition MPs, were also arrested in connection with the scandal.

Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora were lawmakers with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the time of the vote. They are accused of accepting the bribe money. Both men have denied the charge.

Later, a former aide of India's top opposition leader LK Advani, Sudheendra Kulkarni, was arrested for masterminding the whole scandal. He says it was to expose corruption in the government.

The government survived the July 2008 vote. If it had been lost, India would have faced early elections.

But two days of parliamentary debate on the controversial civilian nuclear accord with the US ended in uproar with allegations of vote buying. India's media was awash with reports of alleged defections and desertions among MPs ahead of the vote.

BJP members waved wads of money in the air at the time of the debate, alleging that they had been offered bribes to abstain.

Alleged bribe-taking was secretly recorded by a news channel and the tapes handed over to Parliament Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for investigation.

In July this year, the Supreme Court criticised the Delhi police for carrying out a "shoddy probe" into the scandal.

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