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NDA's demand for Volcker documents rejected

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Last updated on: November 28, 2005 15:26 IST

The central government on Monday made it clear that it would not be possible for it to make available all documents procured by special envoy Virendra Dayal from the United Nations on the Volcker report in the face of a court ruling not to make public such documents during investigation.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri told the Rajya Sabha that the documents procured by Dayal were in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate which was analysing and examining them.

Once this was done, these would be handed over to Justice R S Pathak, who has been appointed to probe the Volcker findings on Iraqi oil payments, he said.

Volcker issue all set to rock Parliament

"Till the Justice Pathak Authority completes its work, it may not be possible to make available these documents as the apex court in the Vineet Narain case had given a judgement that agencies like CBI and others like ED were answerable to the court in the matter," he said.

Pachouri was responding to the demand of leader of the opposition Jaswant Singh that government should table documents secured by Dayal to facilitate the House to have pointed and purposeful discussion on Volcker report, which was listed to be taken up on Tuesday.

As some members persisted with the matter, Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat said the members would have enough opportunity to raise the matter during the discussion on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee rejected the Opposition's demand for tabling of the documents collected by Dayal, noting that the Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority had already started its work.

The Speaker ruled that he was not in a position to accede to the request by the leader of the opposition L K Advani that the government be asked to place the documents in the House.

Chatterjee said rules did not ordinarily permit the House taking up a motion on a subject pending before a court of inquiry but he had exercised his discretionary powers to allow the debate.

Asking the Opposition not to insist on its demand, he said the Pathak Committee's report would be tabled in Parliament along with the action taken report and members would then have an opportunity to take it up in the House.

"I cannot direct the government to table them (the documents) in the House," he said, noting that the Pathak Committee had already started its work.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee contended that Dayal had been appointed to assist the Pathak Committee and that the Volcker documents had been handed over to the Director of Enforcement who accompanied the special envoy to the US.

He said, after analysis, the documents would be submitted to the Pathak Committee and not to any other authority. Mukherjee contended that agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate were answerable to courts.

Advani said he had written a letter to the Speaker on Sunday, mentioning that documents received from the Volcker Committee by Dayal should be placed before the House. He argued that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed the special envoy to get the documents from the Volcker Committee.

These are already part of the report and, hence, the government should have no hesitation in putting them before Parliament. Opposing government's contention, BJP deputy leader V K Malhotra said it was trying to 'cover up'.

Mohan Singh, Samajwadi Party, said the papers should be kept in Parliament's domain as the entire Congress party has come under suspicion. Prabhunath Singh, JD(U), accused the government of trying to 'hide the truth', saying the documents would expose the names of all beneficiaries.

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