New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General report cited by the Supreme Court in its verdict on Friday while dismissing petitions demanding a probe into the Rafale deal have become the latest flashpoint in the row between the government and the Congress-led Opposition.
The 29-page judgment said the report was shared with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), but Congress leader Mallikajun Kharge, who heads the PAC, said on Saturday he has not seen the report and accused the government of lying to the top court to get a clean chit.
“The government lied in the SC that the CAG report was presented in the House and before the PAC and the PAC has probed it. The government said in SC that it (the CAG report) is in public domain. Where is it? Have you seen it?” Kharge said while speaking to reporters on Saturday.
Kharge, striking a confrontational note, said he would ask the PAC to summon Attorney General KK Venugopal and CAG Rajiv Mehrishi and question them about when this report was tabled before the panel, and if not, why the submission was made before the top court.
“Will request all panel members to summon the AG and the CAG to ask them when the CAG report on Rafale deal was tabled in the Parliament,” Kharge said.
“When you feed wrong information in SC and get a clean chit on that then it is not right. We respect the SC but it is not a probe agency, only the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee can investigate the Rafale deal. The government has not followed the proper procedure in court,” the Congress leader said.
He also looked to turn the tables on the Narendra Modi government by demanding that it apologise for “misleading” SC by presenting wrong facts on the CAG report. The ruling BJP has been demanding an apology from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for “false allegations” against PM Modi after the SC verdict.
But the mention of the CAG report in the SC judgment has become a sore point. On Page 21, in Para 25 of the judgment, the bench states: “The material placed before us shows that the government has not disclosed pricing details, other than the basic price of the aircraft, even to Parliament, on the ground that sensitivity of pricing details could affect national security, apart from breaching the agreement between the two countries. The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament, and is in public domain.”
Rahul Gandhi had on Friday asserted that no such report was given to the House panel headed by Kharge. “Where has that report gone? Is it with some other PAC that PM Modi has set up,” he asked in a dig at the government.
Asked about it, finance minister Arun Jaitley, said: “I think whatever are the contents of the verdict in terms of the procedural details or the direction which has been given, that’s not a subject matter of our comment.” If something is required to be done in that regard, he said, “I think the lawyers will examine it and do the needful”.