M A I N   N E W S

CBI to probe Tehelka scam
Govt not to extend Phukan panel term
Swati Chaturvedi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 1
The UPA government has decided not to extend the term of the Justice Phukan Commission probing the Tehelka revelations in a decision that is expected to have wide repercussions in the on-going confrontation with the Opposition. The commission’s term ends on November 2.

Authoritative sources told The Tribune that instead of the commission widely expected to give the accused, including former Defence Minister George Fernandes, a clean chit the government would ask the CBI to register an FIR in order to investigate the scam revealed by Tehelka.

The decision not to extend the term of the commission is likely to snowball into a major confrontation with the Opposition since after Justice Venkatswami, who was probing the expose, resigned the NDA government had appointed Phukan. Even when the Phukan Commission was appointed Tarun Tejpal, the promoter of the website, had said that the whole commission was a farce and the website would not despose before it. While, in the Opposition the Congress party had always demanded that an FIR be registered and the CBI investigate the matter. Sources say the party discussed the matter recently and passed another resolution to this effect.

While Union Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj was unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts by The Tribune a senior minister said “This seems to be the only sensible thing to do since a clean chit to the accused would have presented us with a fait accompli. Let the CBI take a view since a commission of inquiry cannot really investigate corruption. Why should we go along with the NDA’s cover-up.”

By not extending his term, the government would effectively put Phukan out of business since the commission is still taking stock of the affidavits filed by the various parties involved. Most of the accused are still to depose before the commission. Interestingly, even the Phukan Commission declared the Tehelka tapes genuine. Tejpal told The Tribune that after cooperating with the Venkatswami commission for 19 months he had concluded that the new commission was fraudulent and just an attempt to cover up which is why Tehelka had decided not to have anything to do with it.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |