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Phukan joins issue with PM

NEW DELHI, OCT. 7. Justice S.N. Phukan, who headed the now disbanded Tehelka Commission, today joined issue with the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, on his statement that the Commission "has not been able to produce a report in three years."

He said the probe was at a "very advanced" stage and he would have completed the job within six months had the new Government's counsel "cooperated" with it. "I have been heading the Commission for the last one-and-half years and not three years. In February this year, I had submitted to the Prime Minister the Commission's report on the probe into 15 defence deals that were referred to it. How can anyone say that the Commission has not given any report," he asked.

Dr. Singh, who made the statement at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday, appeared not to have been briefed properly by officials, he said.

"We were at a very advanced stage in the inquiry proceedings. Unfortunately, the counsel appointed by the new Government sought adjournments one after another totalling three months."

"If the Government lawyers had fully cooperated, the report regarding allegations on the Tehelka tapes would have been complete within six months."

— PTI

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