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Tehelka panel not to record evidence afresh

Source: PTI
February 28, 2003 19:29 IST
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In a significant development, Phukan Commission of Inquiry probing the Tehelka expose on Friday decided not to record evidence afresh.

The panel also refused to put on record Tehelka's paper on withdrawing from future proceedings after Attorney General Soli Sorabjee took strong exception to the "language" used in the document.

After hearing the arguments of Sorabjee and other counsel, the panel decided to continue the proceedings from the point it was left by Justice K Venkataswami, said S N Phukan, while conducting his first hearing.

He gave four weeks time to the Commission counsel to go through the evidence recorded so far.

Phukan admitted Tehelka's plea for withdrawal from the future proceedings of Commission due to "various constraints", but rejected the news portal's request for taking the document on record after Sorabjee took strong exception to the language used in it.

"Ask them to put this (paper) in the form of affidavit as the language used in it is very offending," Sorabjee said after Tehelka counsel Prashant Bhushan filed the paper.

Bhushan then asked the Commission to take as oral submission the decision of Tehelka Managing Editor Tarun Tejpal and its two reporters Anirudh Bahal and Mathew Samuel of not participating in future proceedings of the Commission.

To which Solicitor General Kirit Raval said the Commission must also explain to them the consequences of not participating even after being cross-examination noticees. Bhushan said they knew the consequences.

Phukan said the Commission has been told about the withdrawal and the news portal had been explained of the consequences.

Bhushan, however, said if the Commission wanted some specific information, Tehelka would provide the same.

The argument between Sorabjee and Bhushan resulted in some unruly scenes with the Tehelka counsel insisting that they were entitled to put their views before the Commission and the attorney general criticising the news portal for maligning law officers.

Raising a point about the orders passed by Venkataswami, former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly's counsel Niloy Dutta wanted to know if there would be any consideration of previous orders. Phukan said, "I will not wash-of all the previous orders."

But he added that anyone who wanted some re-consideration could move an application, which will be considered.

He also asked all the counsel to provide the Commission with a short synopsis on their stands taken so far.

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