Venkataswami declines to reconsider decision

NEW DELHI Nov. 24. Justice K. Venkataswami, heading the Tehelka Enquiry Commission and holding the post of the chairman of the Authority on Advance Rulings of Excise and Customs (AAREC) today declined to reconsider his decision to resign from both the posts.

He had put in his papers on Saturday following a controversy raised by the Opposition parties in Parliament over his appointment as the chairman of AAREC in May this year.

Justice Venkataswami, staying in a guest house in the Asiad village declined to meet presspersons today. It was announced that he would hold a press conference tomorrow, when he would come out with reasons, which prompted him to quit.

In the morning, the Attorney General, Soli Sorabjee, called on Justice Venkataswami and tried to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. When presspersons, who had gathered in front of the guest house asked Justice Venkataswami, when he and Mr. Sorabjee were coming out and whether he would reconsider his decision? He said "not at all".

Sources close to Justice Venkataswami told The Hindu that though there was nothing wrong in holding two posts simultaneously, he had decided to relinquish both the posts in view of the Opposition's onslaught on his credibility and there was no question of him reconsidering the decision.

The sources pointed out that "there are many precedents of persons holding two positions and even now two or three persons are functioning in dual capacity. The only consideration being that accepting the second post should not in any way affect the functions and duties of the other post".

The Chief Justice of India had recommended the name of Justice Venkataswami only after considering all these aspects and the Government accepted the suggestion and appointed him as the AAREC chairman.

The functioning of the Tehelka panel was not affected in any manner by his accepting the dual responsibility and the probe into the defence deals exposed by the portal was in a crucial stage.

Already recording of evidence had been completed and after arguments by the counsel, the Commission had planned to take up the financial aspect.

The sources made it clear that a new incumbent to be appointed in his place could proceed with the enquiry from where Justice Venkataswami had left off and complete the probe in the next few months, though its current tenure would expire on January 23.