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Phukan gives Fernandes a clean chit; Govt rejects report

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 13, 2005 19:31 IST
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The United Progressive Alliance government on Friday rejected the report of the Phukan Commission, which probed the Tehelka expose into fictitious defence deals, on the ground that it was 'incomplete'.

The commission has given a clean chit to the then defence minister George Fernandes although it has found lapses in all but two of the 15 defence deals it probed in the wake of an expose by Tehelka web portal four years ago.

The 47-page report, tabled in both the Houses of Parliament by the government on the last day of the budget session, clears Fernandes by stating that he had either no role to play or that he had committed no illegality or irregularity in 12 of the deals. His name does not not figure in the remaining three deals probed.

"The report is about only on two of the terms of reference instead of the four made to it. Therefore, the government has rejected it," an official spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said even the report on the two terms of reference were only on 'procedural matters'. The Commission itself had termed the findings as part report, he added.

The cases relating to the expose have been referred by the government to the Central Bureau of Investigation for a probe, he added.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee tabled a copy of the report in the Lok Sabha.

The Tehelka expose had broke out on March 13-14, 2001 and the then government had appointed Venkataswami Commission on March 24 to probe it and to present its findings within four months.

The Commission was given an extension up to October 3, 2004. However, Justice Venkataswami resigned on November 25, 2002. Following which Justice Phukan was appointed Chairman of the Commission on January 2, 2003.

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