Neena Vyas

"Natwar is not a scapegoat"

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary and spokesperson Arun Jaitley on Monday said the Pathak Inquiry Authority into the Iraqi oil vouchers scandal had unravelled only "half the truth." However, he did not agree with Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani that the Authority had made former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh a "scapegoat."

Mr. Jaitley charged that the Pathak report was "based on documents that could be selectively and conveniently placed before it by Paul Volcker (of the United Nations' Volcker report) and the Iraqi authorities."

The documents produced in the report by the Inquiry Authority were "convenient and self-serving" as the Authority itself was a "common route adopted by the United Progressive Alliance government that was interested in unearthing only half the truth."

Mr. Jaitley's charge was that the Government had not filed a criminal case against the "non-contractual beneficiaries" of oil vouchers named in the report.

As a result, the inquiry did not have the teeth or power to get all the documents required. It was also denied power to issue notices under Section 8b of the Commission of Inquiry Act. And it was held in camera instead of being open to the public and the media.

He said Justice Pathak inquired into some of the subjects he was to inquire into, while many more were not inquired into. "What he did not inquire into was qualitatively and quantitatively more than what he did inquire into." That was the "route" the Government decided the inquiry should take, he added.

Mr. Jaitley said the BJP's two main grievances were: that while the money (given as commissions) had been traced to Switzerland, after that the money trail had not been followed; and rigorous investigation had not been undertaken into the Iraqi oil vouchers which mentioned the Congress party as the "non-contractual beneficiary."