CONG WANTS CAG NOT TO SUBMIT RAFALE AUDIT
Party sees conflict of interest as CAG Mehrishi was the Finance Secretary when the deal was struck; defending the CAG, Arun Jaitley says Defence Ministry files are dealt with by Secretary (Expenditure)
Raising the decibel level a day before submission of the audit report on Rafale, the Congress party, alleging conflict of interest, accused Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi of committing a "gross impropriety" by auditing the deal, saying that as the Finance Secretary he was involved in the negotiations.
CAG Mehrishi was the Finance Secretary when the deal was struck.
The Congress also issued a warning to all government officials that they are being watched for their excessive "loyalty" towards PM Modi. Addressing the media, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, "Officials should know that elections come and go, sometimes we are in Opposition and sometimes we are the ruling party. We will keep an eye on all government officials who are over enthusiastic and are trying to show loyalty to the PM. They should remember that Constitution is bigger than anything."
The memorandum to CAG Meharishi says, "You were the Finance Secretary from October 29, 2014, to August 30, 2015, including at the time of unilateral announcement for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft. Even at the time of cancellation of the 126 aircraft MMRCA deal you were the Finance Secretary.
"Consequently, you were directly involved in the Rafale deal on both these occasions as the Finance Secretary. Not only this, you were also involved in negotiations of the deal as a representative of the Finance Ministry," the Congress said in the memorandum.
It has further accused Meharishi of being "complicit in the irregularities" in the deal.
"There is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause (case), nor can you sit in audit over your own actions, to which you were a party.
"This conduct points to a direct conflict of interest, making you a judge in your own cause (case) and rendering you ineligible to conduct any audit on the Rafale deal as CAG," the party said.
Addressing the media, Sibal said the CAG report was yet another attempt of the Modi government to cover up the "Rafale scam".
"The CAG, in his report, likely to be submitted on Monday, will not only defend his action in the deal as then Finance Secretary but also do a coverup for the government. Despite all the irregularities happening before his eyes, the CAG will only come out defending the government and saying there is no corruption in the deal," said Sibal.
"Being legally not entitled to audit the deal, the CAG should recuse and refrain from submitting a report on the deal," said Sibal. The Congress has repeatedly demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in to the "country's biggest defence scam".
Officials should know that elections come and go, sometimes we are in opposition and sometimes we are the ruling party. We will keep an eye on officials who are over enthusiastic and trying to show loyalty to Prime Minister. They should remember that the Constitution is bigger than anything
– Congress leader Kapil Sibal