Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly, who has been accused of accepting money from two tehelka.com journalists posing as arms dealers, has accused the Web site and the Congress party of sabotaging the Justice Venkataswamy commission probe by creating circumstances that forced the judge to resign.
Justice Venkataswami was asked to look into allegations of corruption in defence deals after a sting operation by tehelka caught top politicians and defence officials demanding and accepting bribes on the camera.
Justice Venkataswami tendered his resignation after opposition parties objected to his parallel appointment as the chairman of the Authority on Advance Ruling in Customs and Excise.
Addressing a news conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, Jaitly claimed that a The Times of India report accusing the government of sabotaging the inquiry was incorrect.
"I would like to bring to the notice of the public who these sources are that have spoon-fed information to The Times of India. They (Siddarth Luthra and Siddarth Aggarwal) are lawyers -- one represented tehelka before the commission and the other acted on the commission's behalf. Gopal Subramaniam, senior counsel, brought in Siddarth Aggarwal as one of the commission's lawyers. This gentleman is an associate in the firm Luthra and Associates, which is owned by Siddharth Luthra and his wife Ketaki," she said.
Jaitly questioned the wisdom of Gopal Subramaniam bringing in Siddarth Aggarwal as the commission's lawyer knowing that he worked with Siddarth Luthra, who was representing tehelka.
"Gopal Subramaniam should have disclosed his (Siddarth Aggarwal's) interest and sought the commission's consent for his appointment," she said.
Jaitly claimed she had uncovered the links between the two lawyers by writing to Aggarwal under the fictitious identity of a company interested in buying land for a hospital in Haryana. "I wrote to Aggarwal, but got an answer from Luthra," she said.
" I have done to tehelka what they did to me," she said.
Jaitly claimed that she had been working for over two months to trap the lawyers and decided to break her silence after Justice Venkataswami quit the office.
Asked why she sat on the information for more than two months, she said she did not want to be blamed for derailing the commission.
She added that if the commission's report had gone against her, she could have come out with the information to show how the commission's report had been manipulated.
Jaitly claimed that Aggarwal had not posed any tough questions to tehelka journalists -- Tarun Tejpal, Annirudha Bahal and Samuel Mathew -- when they appeared before the commission. He also advised the commission to not go into the source of funding of call girls used in the sting operation.
When contacted, Siddarth Luthra said Aggarwal has not been associated with his firm for two years now.
"I know most of the lawyers working for the commission. Ms Jaitly's lawyer Niloye Dutta briefed me on certain matters while I was advocating for tehelka.com. My sister Geeta Luthra is representing Ms Jaitly in a land case. I have known Siddarth Aggarwal both as a professional and a friend, but that does not mean that anyone of us has compromised our professional integrity," he said.
Defence Scam: The Complete Coverage
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report