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PAC expresses inability to give report on Kargil arms purchase

August 06, 2003 14:09 IST
Last Updated: August 07, 2003 23:12 IST

In an unprecedented step in the country's parliamentary history, the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday expressed its 'inability' to give its findings on irregularities in arms purchases for Kargil operations due to 'refusal' by the defence ministry in providing the Central Vigilance Commission report on the matter.

"In the face of refusal by Ministry of Defence in supplying the CVC report, the PAC regret their inability to give their findings on the defence procurement transactions reported in the CAG's report on Review of Procurement for Operation Vijay," committee chairman Buta Singh said in his 54th report, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

The report was tabled in the two Houses amid din as BJP members protested alleging the report had been leaked even before it was placed in Parliament.

The Committee expressed surprise that such a vital document, which was considered essential for scrutiny of Kargil arms purchases, had been withheld from them on the grounds of secrecy.

It described as 'an anomalous situation' that while findings of the CAG on the arms purchases were made public, secrecy was claimed by the defence ministry under procedures and conduct of the business of the House to withhold the CVC report.

The PAC said the Ministry had refused to provide the CVC report to it on the plea that it was based on 'secret and top secret documents' and 'therefore... it would be prejudicial to the interest of the state'.

The 22-member PAC took strong exception to the letter written by Defence Minister George Fernandes to all Members of Parliament 'authenticating and circulating a booklet by R V Pandit containing derogatory remarks against the CAG', which, it said, was a constitutional body.

The PAC unanimously resolved that the matter regarding possible breach of privilege and also amounting to interference in the functioning of the PAC by the defence minister be brought to the notice of the speaker for examination by the Privileges Committee of Parliament.

The Privileges Committee is the oldest in Parliament and has 22 members -- 15 from Lok Sabha and seven from Rajya Sabha -- and over the years has had the distinction of being chaired by eminent personalities.

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