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Debate centres around CVC report
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | August 19, 2003 13:35 IST
Tuesday morning's debate over the Opposition sponsored no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha centred around the secrecy and contents of the Central Vigilance Commission report on defence deals.
The CVC report was not made available to the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament by the ministry of defence, since it was a `secret report'. The PAC reviews the audits of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and has sweeping powers to call for explanations from ministries.
Earlier this month, the PAC had refused to conclude a report on defence contracts during Operation Vijay in 1999, since it was denied access to the CVC report on the Kargil operation.
As the debate over the no-confidence motion discussion continued, various members had their own claims over the contents of the CVC report. But no one was ready to disclose how they accessed the secret report.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was in an aggressive mode singling out Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, claimed that only two contracts pertaining to Operation Vijay are mentioned in the secret CVC report.
She said Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy, who spoke Monday evening, had claimed that five contracts from the Kargil conflict period were mentioned in the CVC report, which was wrong. "Only two contracts of the period are mentioned in the CVC report," she stated.
Veteran Communist leader Somnath Chatterjee objected to her claim, and wanted to know how she got access to a document which the defence ministry had refused to share even with the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. "How does she know the contents of the report?"
Sushma took refuge under the Union Cabinet's collective responsibility, but asked, "How did Reddy get the report?" Chatterjee said he was not defending Reddy, but Swaraj should clarify how she came to know the report's contents.
Jaipal Reddy, who entered the house at that point of time, said he was ready to mention the file numbers of the five contracts but did not do so since the Speaker had not asked for it.
"Yesterday Vijay Kumar Malhotra (BJP) said no item of Operation Vijay was mentioned in the report. How did he get it?" Reddy asked in turn.
As Malhotra got up to speak, the Opposition created a din, asking how he got the report.
Speaker Manohar Joshi intervened saying that any information given to the House had to be authenticated. "Or I will remove it from the proceedings."
Chatterjee said it was a question of a classified report being made available to Malhotra and others who were not authorized to view the report.
Joshi then said he was ready for a debate on the issue if both sides agreed to it. "Unless documents are not authenticated I will not include it in the proceedings," he warned.