`Advani should not have met Telgi's counsel'

Bangalore Dec. 24. The Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, D.B. Chandre Gowda, has objected to the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, giving an audience to the advocate of Abdul Karim Telgi, prime accused in the multi-crore stamp paper scam, saying it has brought down the dignity of the office he holds.

Speaking to presspersons here today, the Minister said that as the Union Home Minister, Mr. Advani should not have met Abdul Rehman, advocate for Telgi, in Delhi, which had sent a wrong signal to the people. Mr. Gowda criticised the Union Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, for advocating that all cases related to the stamp paper racket should be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The State Government would oppose any "imposition" of the inquiry by the investigation agency. However, the State Government would accept it if there was a directive from the Supreme Court, he said.

Mr. Gowda pointed out that the system of using stamp papers had been stopped in Karnataka, and said 64 persons had been arrested in the State and 600 witnesses examined. Even the Bombay High Court had appreciated the work of the Karnataka Government. While the investigation in Karnataka had made fast progress, in other States even the preliminary work had not started, he said. On the necessity of conducting the narco-analysis test on Telgi, the Minister said only the court could decide on that.

Special court

Mr. Gowda said arrangements had been made at the City Civil Court complex here to set up a special court for the trial of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, in the disproportionate assets cases. The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court had been given all details pertaining to the special court. A panel of advocates for appointment of public prosecutors had also been furnished to him.

Mr. Gowda said the Government had created a good atmosphere for holding the trial in Bangalore. There was no impediment for holding it (trial) and there should be no confusion over that. This had been mentioned in the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, which was looking into the request of Ms. Jayalalithaa for shifting the trial outside Karnataka. The venue might be changed, if the Apex Court ordered so, he added. On the future of 5,016 rural weightage candidates, who were appointed following a special recruitment drive, Mr. Gowda said they should not become disheartened and assured them that the Government would protect their interests.

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