Saturday, March 17, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM orders judicial probe into expose
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today ordered an inquiry by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court into allegations of corruption at high places in defence deals.

Addressing the nation on Doordarshan, three days after the website,, came out with the expose, the Prime Minister said the inquiry would be completed within four months to get to the bottom of the truth.

The government is consulting the Chief Justice of India in this regard and the request for a swift time-bound probe would be made to him. He assured the countrymen that the government would extend its fullest strength to the inquiry and bring all guilty to account.

He said all this would be done in a manner that would ensure that the country’s security is strengthened.

Adopting an aggressive posture against the Opposition, Mr Vajpayee asked the political parties to allow Parliament to function. Parliament is the forum which must discuss and dissect such issues. It must debate on every ramification of the issue. “Parliament is in session. Unfortunately, it is not being allowed to function”.

The Prime Minister’s address was preceded by a Cabinet meeting and a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance partners.

He said the important point was that action had been taken immediately because norms of good governance required this. “The government has acted decisively and swiftly. Some officials have been suspended. Action against them is well under way.” He said no minister was involved in the deal.

Mr Vajpayee said that it was for the first time in his 52-year career that such grave allegations had been made. The allegations had come at a time when the country was having stability and the government was implementing far reaching economic reforms.

He said despite Parliament being in session, it has not been allowed to debate this. This had compelled him to talk directly to the people, he added.

Controversies, allegations and explanations should not be allowed to obscure essential principles and the interests of the country. It should not obstruct the making of essential decisions, he added.

The security of the country should remain inviolate. Along with that, the political system should be cleaned and it should function to the highest standards of propriety. Each of these is of highest concern to the government. That has why the government has acted decisively and swiftly, he added.

Describing Mr Fernandes as a stalwart of the NDA, Mr Vajpayee said he had resigned in the highest traditions of the country, to safeguard the morale of the forces and the security of the country.


Conspiracy angle to be looked into
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
The proposed one-man commission to probe the Tehelka expose will also look into the conspiracy angle, the Union Cabinet decided today.

As per the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry, approved by the Cabinet late this evening, the probe will inquire into “all aspects relating to making of these allegations or any other matter which arises from or is connected with or incidental to any act, omission or transaction referred to.”

The commission, which would be required to submit the report within four months from the date of notification, will also probe into the transactions relating to defence and other procurements referred to in the said video tapes and transcripts to ascertain whether they have been carried out in terms of the prescribed procedures and imperatives of national security, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan, who also doubles as the Cabinet Spokesman, said.

The commission will also inquire whether in any of the procurement transactions, illicit games have been made by persons in public office, individuals or any other organisation as alleged and if so, to what extent.

Most importantly, the one-Judge commission will suggest action that may be taken in respect of the persons who may be found responsible by the commission for their acts of omission or commission in respect of the transactions referred in the terms of commission, he said.

Asked whether the Opposition parties will accept this, Mr Mahajan said, “This inquiry is for the people of the country. If the Opposition has any other suggestion, we are prepared to consider.”

To a query on when the notification about the setting up of the commission would be issued, the minister said, “The draft is ready and we are just waiting for the name.”

Incidentally, Mr Nitish Kumar, who has tendered his resignation as Agriculture Minister, did not attend the meeting. The Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, Mr Brajesh Mishra, was however, present at the meeting.

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