|Friday, February 11, 2000,
Shekhar, Gowda may face action
NEW DELHI, Feb 10 (PTI) The government today informed the Delhi High Court that it was proposing to take legal action against former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and H.D. Deve Gowda for recovery of over Rs 6.28 crore for using defence aircraft for private purposes during their tenure.
Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) S.B. Jaisinghani, while requesting a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Arun Kumar and Mr Justice D.K. Jain for issuing notices to Chandra Shekhar and Gowda as their respective parties raised certain objections on the payments, said the government proposed to initiate legal action against defaulters.
The Bench, however, refused to issue notices at this stage and directed the government to file an affidavit giving details on further action against the defaulters.
Mr Jaisinghani submitted that the government had recovered Rs 1,86,17,280 from the Congress on account of the bills raised for using the planes by late Rajiv Gandhi, but the party had been very submissive in its approach regarding the payment of Rs 5.52 crore for use of aircraft by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.
The government has given time to the Congress till March 31, 2000 to clear the bills, he said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate B.L. Wadhera seeking recovery of over Rs 13 crore from the four former premiers for using defence aircraft for their personal purposes during their tenure.
The judges during arguments told Mr Jaisinghani that the government should first use all its options instead of seeking notices from the court. First we want to see what action you take, the Bench observed while turning down its request for notices against Mr Shekhar and Mr Gowda.
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry in its affidavit said that the Congress had sought time to make payment for the use of the aircraft by Mr Rao in easy instalments and it had been asked to clear the dues by March 31 so as to avoid initiation of any legal process.
The Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) headed by Mr Shekhar had raised objections to the government claim and questioned the basis of making the political parties responsible for the payments of the alleged unofficial journeys taken by him, the affidavit said.
Mr Gowdas Janata Dal (Secular) had also sent a communication in December questioning the demand on various grounds, it said.
By raising objection on the very basis of the government claim, the two parties in a way had disowned the liability to pay the dues, it said, adding their pleas were not tenable.
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