M A I N   N E W S

Can only file affidavit on Home Ministry’s behalf: Chidambaram
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, September 6
Even as the controversy raged around how and why senior counsel Harbhagwan Singh stated in the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently that the Centre had decided to rescind the 2003 notification barring Sehajdhari Sikhs from participating in the SGPC elections, the Home Minister today said he had made the position of his ministry clear in the matter.

“We can only file an affidavit on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” P Chidambaram told The Tribune today when asked why there was a discrepancy (on Law Ministry’s role) between the application and the affidavit filed by the Home Ministry Undersecretary Rajiv Attri before the HC in the case yesterday.

As reported in these columns, the Centre, while clarifying its position (of not having rescinded the 2003 notification regarding barring Sehajdhari Sikhs from taking part in the SGPC poll) in the HC, submitted two documents that varied from each other in content.

While the affidavit, which must testify on oath whatever the application contends, stated that senior advocate Harbhagwan Singh was never briefed by the Union of India/Ministry of Home or the

Ministry of Law, the application stated that Harbhagwan Singh was never briefed by the Union of India/Ministry of Home Affairs. In the application, there was no mention of the Law Ministry, though it was so in the affidavit.

When asked specifically about the reason behind the said variance in the two critical legal documents, Chidambaram, a seasoned lawyer himself, said, “How do I know? Ask the lawyer.”

Meanwhile, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, came forward to dispel apprehensions, if any, that the Congress was working to disrupt the elections, as alleged by the Akalis.

She rejected insinuations made by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal about Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh’s role in the matter. “Let it be known once and for all that the Congress does not directly or indirectly interfere with the SGPC poll. We have never done so. In such a situation, insinuating that any Congress leader was involved in this controversy is sheer display of ignorance,” she said.

When questioned on Law Minister Salman Khursheed’s admission yesterday that some Congress leaders had requested the ministry to engage Harbhagwan Singh for the SGPC case in the high court, Ambika said she did not know anything about who those leaders could be. Another minister, Ashwani Kumar, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, said the matter stood rested once the Home Minister clarified in Parliament that the senior counsel in question was not given any instruction.

However, another senior minister said someone had obviously called up Harbhagwan Singh and said something to him. Who called up him and what he said to him remains to be seen.





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