Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has charged the United Progressive Alliance with rejecting Justice S N Phukan report, which was tabled in Parliament on Friday, in the Tehelka tape case with ulterior motives.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, Sinha said that the government deliberately raised the issue of Justice Phukan's travel by Indian Air Force plane in a bid to prepare ground for rejecting the report, which gave clean chit to former defence minister George Fernandes on 13 out of 15 counts.
"The government says that it is rejecting the interim report submitted by Justice Phukan, but to my mind Justice Phukan gave full and final report running into 700 pages and it is wrong to call it an interim report. The government has rejected the report on flimsy grounds. By doing so, they are casting aspersions on the credibility of Justice Phukan. Most of the deals were done either before George Fernandes took over as the defence minister of India or were decided at much junior level. The commission has recommended departmental action to in some cases," he said.
Talking about Sukhoi-30 MK deal, Sinha read out a portion out of Justice Phukan report which said that on April 4, 1996, the then congress government gave 142.268 million dollars as advance through a New York based bank on pressure from the Russians for the purchase of the aircraft even when a contract had not been signed.
"The deal was approved by the then finance minister," he said.
Asked if he was pointing an accusing finger at Dr Manmohan Singh, who was then finance minister, Sinha said that he has merely read out the statement and he would leave it to the media to draw its own conclusions.
Asked why was Justice Phukan so obsessed with giving clean chit to George Fernandes when the appointment of the commission was to go into the cases of defence procurement and not find the role of an individual, Sinha said that Justice K Venkataswami had summoned George Fernandes to explain his position hence the former defence minister became a party to it.
"That is why clean chit to George Fernandes was necessary. If the Phukan commission had found him guilty even on one count then the same UPA government would have hailed the order of Justice Phukan," he said.