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Who leaked the Pathak Committee report?

By Sheela Bhatt and R Prema in New Delhi
Last updated on: August 05, 2006 02:40 IST
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According to government sources, a lawyer with links to the Pathak Committee is alleged to have leaked its report on the Iraq oil-for-food scam to a television news channel.

Sources have said that the journalist who got this report first - allegedly on a floppy disk - is a close relative of the lawyer.

Even as Justice R S Pathak was at tea with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the channel flashed as 'breaking news' the information that only the prime minister was supposed to know at that time.

Justice Pathak  has inquired into the United Nation's Volcker Committee report, which had indicted the Congress and former foreign minister Natwar Singh as 'non-contractuary beneficiaries' in the Iraq oil-for-food scam. His report indicts Singh and his son, Jagat and exonerates the Congress party.

Reportedly, it has been now revealed that when Justice Pathak, a former chief  justice of India, took an appointment with the prime minister at 6 pm on August 3, excerpts of the report started to be broadcast.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, surprised at finding the report being broadcast, understood the gravity of the situation as it has been leaked while Parliament is in session. The minister will be responsible for taking action on the report, if the findings of the committee are accepted by the government.

The Prime Minister's Office has already said that the Pathak report has not been leaked from their premises.

Sudha Pillai, the 1972 batch IAS officer and secretary of the inquiry committee is believed to have been interrogated about the leak.

She reportedly has said that she had taken only one printout of the 88-page report and made a photocopy of only the first page to take signatures of Justice Pathak for the record.

One of the accused, Andaleeb Sehgal, had filed a case against the Pathak report being made public. However, the high court has rejected the petition.

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Sheela Bhatt and R Prema in New Delhi