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The home ministry on Thursday said Home Minister P Chidambaram did not have any role in the withdrawal of three FIRs against a Delhi-based hotelier, who was accused of cheating and forgery and is said to be a former client of the minister.
Union Home Secretary R K Singh also claimed that the draft of a letter sent by the home ministry to the Delhi government for withdrawal of the FIRs had not been shown to the home minister, home secretary or the joint secretary concerned and it did not reflect the proper deliberations of the home ministry. He suggested it could be a fault of drafting.
"The draft was not shown to the home minister. The file was not shown to the home secretary either. Even the concerned joint secretary said he had not seen the draft. The home minister had no role in withdrawal of the case," he told reporters.
Singh's remarks came against the backdrop of a raging controversy over the withdrawal of three FIRs against S P Gupta, who runs M/s Sunair Hotels Pvt Ltd.
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The three FIRs relate to Gupta allegedly misusing the names of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and defrauding a firm -- VLS Finance -- to the tune of several crores of rupees.
Reports also suggested there was a conflict of interest as Gupta was a client of Chidambaram, who fought his cases in the court as a lawyer.
In a statement, the ministry said, "The home minister is unable to recall at this distance of time whether he appeared in a case concerning M/s Sunair Hotels Pvt Ltd at any time between 1999 and 2003".
The home secretary said that while going through the file related to the cases against S P Gupta, the home minister made it clear that the home ministry should not give any advice to the Delhi government but only forward the opinion of the ministry of law.
"The (home) ministry has never said that the case should be withdrawn. The home minister categorically wrote on the file that only the advice of the law ministry should be forwarded to the GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) and no advice should be given from the ministry of home affairs. There was no question of conflict of interest," he said.
Singh said the file had surely gone to the home minister once, but he had written in clear terms that the opinion of the law ministry should be forwarded and the petition should be forwarded to GNCTD, which will take the appropriate action after scrutiny.
"There is no conflict of interest for two reasons. One, the petition was filed before the home secretary and the home secretary got it examined and two, the ministry of law was consulted and a decision was reached that the advise of the ministry of law should be forwarded," he said.
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"If the letter is not reflecting the true picture, it is the fault of the drafting. I had called for the file yesterday and read it carefully," he said.
The home secretary said the issue came up before the ministry when it received a petition from Gupta that this was a civil matter being made out to be a criminal matter.
"S P Gupta made a representation to the PMO that was forwarded to the MHA in July," he said.
Singh said the Company Law Board was also already looking into the matter and the chief public prosecutor of the Delhi government had already advised against registration of FIRs under the criminal sections.
"So we decided to take the opinion of the law ministry. The ministry said that if no case is being made out, then the prosecution should consider withdrawal," he said.
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