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Arms deal: Isaac poser to Antony

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Thomas Isaac says the Defence Minister should make it clear how to conduct an investigation.
Thomas Isaac says the Defence Minister should make it clear how to conduct an investigation.

Staff Reporter

ALAPPUZHA: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said on Saturday that Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s statement on invoking the pre-integrity contract in the Israel arms deal if credible evidence of malpractice was produced was, in effect, a partial confession of crime.

In a press release issued here, Dr. Isaac said the Defence Minister should also make it clear how investigation into the alleged malpractice would be conducted, because there would be no credibility if the accused himself was to be the judge.

Mr. Antony’s statement that the deal was signed after it was vetted at various levels through discussions spanning two years was in itself proof of malpractice, because the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had found the company guilty of corruption much before the deal was signed.

He sought to know who had given the permission for holding talks with such a company and why the practice of blacklisting a firm that was found guilty of corruption was not adhered to in this case.

The guidelines issued by Mr. Antony himself on October 3, 2008, had directed that such deals were not to be signed with Israeli firms.

The guidelines had also stated that if such firms were the only vendors, then the deal was not to be signed. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had put forward such stringent guidelines and even then, proceeded to sign the deal secretly.

Mr. Antony should also disclose the amount fixed as business charges and who had received these charges, the Finance Minister said.

Dr. Isaac said Mr. Antony’s attempts to avoid answers to such questions were deplorable.

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