The Tehelka Commission of Inquiry on Friday ordered detailed forensic examination of the videotapes containing allegations of corruption in defence deals.
Reversing previous rulings, the 31-page order of Justice S N Phukan said it has 'serious doubts' the tapes might be 'tampered (with)'. As many as 16 videotapes will be examined by 'independent and impartial experts'.
Accepting a plea by Samata Party leader Jaya Jaitly and others, the former Supreme Court judge said, "These doubts (about the tapes being tampered with) have to be removed and the truth has to be found. The examination of the original is essential in order to come to a conclusion as to the veracity of the tapes."
He asked the noticees to give their response by May 19 as to where the tapes should be sent for the forensic examination. "In any case, no prejudice will be caused to Tehelka if the tapes are sent for forensic examination," he added.
Maintaining the videotapes were primary evidence and foundation of the present inquiry, the Commission said law must be in a state of progress and adapt itself to change and should not be behind time.
Justice K Venkataswami, who had headed the Commission for nearly 18 months before resigning under controversial circumstances, had twice turned down Jaitly's plea maintaining there was no prima-facie case for the forensic examination at that stage.
It has been more than two years since the Tehelka expose was made public and during these two years the Commission of Inquiry has already sought five extensions.