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`Ask Centre for CVC report on defence deals'

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: Alleging that the two affidavits filed by the Defence Ministry in the Supreme Court were contrary to each other, an application was filed on Friday for a direction to the Centre to release the reports filed by the Central Vigilance Commission on the defence deals.

In response to the notice issued by the apex court on a public interest petition from Dhananjay Chauhan, the Centre initially filed an affidavit stating that there was no violation in the procedure in the defence deals. On Wednesday, it filed another affidavit stating that the Central Bureau of Investigation would probe 23 more defence deals and action would be taken against those found guilty (including the former Defence Minister, George Fernandes).

The petitioner, through his counsel, D.K. Garg, filed the present application saying that a bare perusal of these affidavits show that they were contrary to each other and contain conflicting averments.

"From these affidavits, it is obvious that the Government of India is deliberately and intentionally suppressing and concealing very vital information regarding defence deals from the apex court and from the general public," the applicant said.

Operation Vijay

To ascertain the facts and to bring to book the guilty persons involved in misappropriation of Rs. 2,175.40 crores under the guise of Operation Vijay, it was essential that the court should direct the Centre to produce the interim report dated August 7, 2000 and the final report dated March 31, 2001 submitted by the CVC. These reports, he said, had been deliberately withheld under the false and fabricated pretext of "secret and top secret documents of the Ministry of Defence."

The petitioner contended, "mere secrecy cannot be made a plea. The Government of India should attribute plausible reasons to this effect. While the Ministry of Defence entrusted both the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) and the CVC to enquire into the defence deals, the findings of the CAG have been made public whereas secrecy has been claimed in respect of the findings of the CVC."

From the letter written by the Defence Ministry to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, it was obvious that the defence deals pertaining to Operation Vijay had already been investigated by the Intelligence Bureau and the CBI and their reports were considered by the CVC. In these circumstances, there was no need for the Centre to refer the matter to the CBI again for investigation as claimed by the Defence Ministry in its second affidavit.

The petitioner submitted that the manner in which the office of the CAG, a constitutional functionary, had been castigated in this booklet was unparallel in the country's history.

As the matter concerned national security, the court should direct the Government to release the two CVC reports, the petitioner said.

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