Congress ac­cuses CAG of con­flict of in­ter­est

Ra­jiv Mehrishi was part of Rafale ne­go­ti­a­tions, says party

The Hindu - - NEWS - Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Ahead of the pos­si­ble tabling of the Comptroller and Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port on the Rafale deal in Par­lia­ment, the Congress has ques­tioned how CAG Ra­jiv Mehrishi could con­duct the au­dit when he him­self had been part of the Rafale ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In a strongly worded let­ter to Mr. Mehrishi, Congress lead­ers Kapil Sibal and Ghu­lam Nabi Azad pointed out that Mr. Mehrishi was the Fi­nance Sec­re­tary when the Rafale deal was signed. “It is an act of gross im­pro­pri­ety for you to deal with the au­dit of the 36 Rafale air­craft deal on ac­count of patent con­flict of in­ter­est writ large. You are con­sti­tu­tion­ally, legally and morally dis­en­ti­tled to ei­ther con­duct an au­dit or to present a re­port be­fore the PAC [Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee] and Par­lia­ment. We urge upon you to re­cuse your­self and pub­licly ac­cept the gross im­pro­pri­ety com­mit­ted by you in ini­ti­at­ing the au­dit of the 36 Rafale air­craft deal,” the let­ter read.

In the let­ter, the Congress fur­ther ac­cused Mr. Mehrishi of try­ing to save the govern­ment.

‘Bid to save govt.’

“We un­der­stand that at the fag end of this govern­ment’s ten­ure, you, as CAG, are at­tempt­ing to help the govern­ment by giv­ing it a clean chit cer­tifi­cate through a re­port likely to be tabled in Par­lia­ment.”

Se­nior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told re­porters that Mr. Mehrishi was likely to present the re­port on the Rafale deal in Par­lia­ment on Mon­day.

Mr. Mehrishi was Fi­nance Sec­re­tary from Oc­to­ber 24, 2014 to Au­gust 30, 2015, and in be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi went to Paris on April 10, 2015 and an­nounced the sign­ing of the Rafale deal.

“Mr. Mehrishi was the Fi­nance Sec­re­tary on June 24, 2015, when the con­tract for the 126 air­craft was can­celled. He still held the post when the ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing on. In fact, the Fi­nance Min­istry plays an im­por­tant role in these ne­go­ti­a­tions... Now it is clear that the Rafale deal hap­pened un­der Ra­jiv Mehrishi,” Mr. Sibal said.

He also pointed out that a govern­ment af­fi­davit, which formed the ba­sis of a Supreme Court judg­ment on a PIL pe­ti­tion on the Rafale deal, said the CAG re­port on the deal had al­ready been tabled in Par­lia­ment. The re­port did not ex­ist till then but the af­fi­davit, Mr. Sibal said, pointed out that “the govern­ment pos­si­bly has ad­vance knowl­edge of the go­ings-on in the CAG and the con­tents of the CAG re­port”.

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