The Delhi high court on Friday rejected a plea for not making public Justice R S Pathak's report on the pay offs in the oil-for-food scam.
A full-bench of the court headed by Justice T S Thakur gave the decision on a plea by Andaleeb Sehgal, who was found by the inquiry authority to have got a share in the money out of the sale of oil contracts given by the Saddam Hussain regime in the oil-for-food scam.
However, stating that it could not pass any orders until the authority's report was before it, the court issued a notice to authority on Sehgal's plea and asked it give a copy of the report to it in a sealed cover.
The court said that Sehgal, a friend of former external affairs minister Natwar Singh's son Jagat Singh, cannot seek restraint on the authority report being made public merely on the basis of media reports.
"Supposing your client is held innocent by the authority, will you still assail the report," the bench asked Sehgal's counsel Rajiv Sawhney.
Earlier, government counsel Gopal Subramaniam strongly opposed Sehgal's plea saying under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the report is given to the government, which it will present in Parliament. He submitted that the inquiry authority was appointed not to find anyone if anyone was guilty but to ascertain the veracity of the findings of the UN-appointed Paul Volcker committee on the oil-for-food scam in 2001.
Sehgal's counsel, while admitting that he did not have a copy of the report of the authority, contended that media reports on the authority's findings had considerable damage to his reputation.
Sehgal made his plea when the court took up for hearing a petition filed by him in June complaining that he was not allowed access to his lawyer during the hearings of the authority. He also claimed that he was not furnished with the material on which he was being charged. Further, he submitted that it was his constitutional right to examine the witnesses in the authority.