Sunday, March 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SC ex-judge to probe expose

New Delhi, March 24
Ten days after the Tehelka expose triggered a political storm, the government today appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice K. Venkataswami, a retired Supreme Court judge, to probe the allegations about bribery in defence deals involving politicians and bureaucrats made in the news portal’s video tapes.

Given four months time to submit its report, the commission would probe “whether the transaction relating to defence and other procurements referred to in the said video tapes and transcripts have been carried out in terms of the prescribed procedures and the imperatives of national security”, a government notification said.

Its other terms of reference would include “whether in any of the aforesaid procurement transactions, illicit gains have been made by persons in public office, individuals, and any other organisation as alleged, and if so, to what extent.”

Justice Venkataswami would also suggest action against persons found responsible “for their acts of commission and/or omissions” during the probe of the allegations made by the news portal

Speaking to PTI from Chennai, Justice Venkataswami, who is expected to reach Delhi mid-next week, said the four-month time limit fixed by the government for completion of the probe could be sufficient.

“I hope the probe into the matter would be completed within the four-month time limit fixed by the government,” he said.

Asked how he felt about the assignment at hand, the retired Judge said: “I have not applied my mind to the subject at all and it will be too premature to comment on the issue.”

The commission, to be headquartered in Delhi, “may, if it deems fit, make interim reports to the Central Government” during the four-month probe period, the official notification said.

It said the setting up of the commission was necessitated as certain allegations had been made in the video tapes and transcripts released by under the name of “Operation Westend” followed by widespread coverage of the subject in the print and electronic media.

These allegations tend to cast an adverse reflection on the manner in which defence procurements and other transactions of the Central Government were carried out allegedly for illicit gains and for extraneous consideration, the notification said.

“In view of the doubts and suspicions generated as a result of the wide publicity given to these allegations, a thorough probe into the matter is considered necessary,” the notification said. PTIBack

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