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Govt to stonewall probe

Govt to stonewall probe

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 3, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/186730/Govt-set-to-stonewall-probe.html

The Government seems to be in no mood to initiate any steps for identifying the Union Minister who put pressure on Madras High Court judge R Raghupathy to grant anticipatory bail to a father and son.

Even as the issue rocked Parliament and the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday and demand to punish the "guilty" Minister grew louder, top sources in the Government indicated that it was not going to approach the judiciary to identify the "erring" Minister.

Instead of taking initiative on the matter that shocked the nation, the Government chose to put the onus on Justice Raghupathy, saying he should have the courage to reveal the name of the Minister who called him. Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, a lawyer-turned-politician, said: "If public life is to be cleaned and we want to move forward, then people should have the courage to move forward on what they have stated in public. When a judge decided to do that… either you should not state it in public… or if he states it, he should come out with entire set of facts so that action can be taken."

With this, the Government tried to justify its inaction in the serious issue where Justice Raghupathy said in the open court that a Minister called up to influence him in the case.

According to high-level sources, the Congress is even trying to explore the possibility of giving this controversy a political hue. The State unit is already finding out details like who appointed the judge - AIADMK or ally DMK? This could determine which way the controversy needs to be directed, said a senior Congress leader.

The issue echoed in the Rajya Sabha, with the Opposition seeking to know the identity of the Minister and demanding that the Prime Minister drop him from the Union Cabinet. Raising the matter during Zero Hour, leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said interference by a Minister with the administration of justice amounted to criminal contempt.

Expressing concern over the conduct of a public functionary, he said the Prime Minister controlled the Union Ministers. It was an individual act of misdemeanour, he added. Jaitley then went on to say, "We need not wait for the judge to name the Minister."

The telecom department could easily establish the identity of the caller, the BJP leader said and urged the Prime Minister to make a statement on the issue. He also said the Prime Minister should drop the Minister concerned. Jaitely also said, "A Minister is not a raja. He is a public servant and, hence, accountable."

V Maitreyan (AIADMK) said he had alerted the Prime Minister three weeks back that the so-called tainted Ministers from Tamil Nadu in the Union Cabinet would only bring him disgrace. "Aap ki Ganga maili ho gayee, paapiyon ke paap dhotey dhotey," Maitreyan quipped.

He said that though the judge did not name the Minister who threatened him on the phone, "everyone in Chennai is fully aware of who the king of this mischief is". Urging the Prime Minister to take action, Maitreyan said, "The Prime Minister will have to face more such ignomy in the near future. The choice for the Prime Minister is straight and simple - dump the not-so-honourable elements in his Cabinet."

Maitreyan said the Law Ministry should obtain the name of the Minister from the Chief Justice of India or the Madras High Court, register a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the Minister and dismiss him immediately.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat wanted to know why the Government was maintaining a "deafening silence" over the matter and demanded a statement from the Prime Minister. Terming the episode as an "assault on the independence of judiciary", she said the Government wanted the judge to reveal the name of the Minister and it seemed "the Government wants to fire from the shoulder of the judge". Karat also alleged that some people were conniving for a big cover-up operation.

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