Sunday, November 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Tehelka panel chief Venkataswami quits
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
Justice K. Venkataswami today resigned as head of the Tehelka inquiry commission and Chairman of the Authority on Advance Ruling on Customs and Excise.

The sources said Justice Venkataswami, a retired Supreme Court Judge, sent his resignation from both posts to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The Opposition led by the Congress had raised the issue in Parliament yesterday and it is understood that Justice Venkataswami decided to quit the post as he wanted to avoid any controversy.

The Opposition had taken strong exception to Justice Venkataswami’s acceptance of a government job when he was probing the Tehelka expose into fictitious defence deals.

While the Congress welcomed the resignation, the BJP said that it was unbecoming of the Congress to have raised a objection. BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley said it was irresponsible on the part of the political parties, particularly the Congress to have objections as even in the past a justice has held two posts. There was nothing unusual in Mr Venkataswami’s acceptance of a job, he asserted.

Mr Jaitley said it was unfortunate that the Congress made such a row over the issue and asked as which Justice would like to accept responsibility in future. Justice Venkataswami’s inquiry was reaching to a conclusion and many startling facts were going to come out but the Congress is not interested in unravelling of facts.

Meanwhile, Tehelka dot com CEO Tarun Tejpal said he was happy that the government’s malafide had been established.

Justice Venkataswami was appointed in April last year to head the commission to probe into allegations of corruption in defence deals made by Tehelka. The commission was initially set up for four months and later got more than three extensions.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Justice Venkataswami said now that the allegations had been made against him, it was difficult for him to work.


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