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Jaitly out of pay-off list

New Delhi, Aug. 25: Tehelka has deleted the name of former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly from the “corrected” list of persons to whom the news portal claimed money was paid during its sting operation on defence deals.

In an affidavit filed before the Venkataswami Commission, which is probing the scandal, the portal’s investigation editor, Aniruddh Bahal, annexed two pages of the list in which Jaitly’s name was replaced with that of the Samata’s Rajasthan unit chief, Gopal Pachirwal.

The original list given by Tehelka to the commission contained Jaitly's name as being the alleged recipient of Rs 2 lakh.

Bahal told agencies he had rectified a “technical mistake” but iterated that the money paid was meant for Jaitly.

“Rs 2 lakh was offered to Jaitly, which she said should be given to Pachirwal (who was sitting next to her). We earlier thought it was Srinivasa Prasad but now we have identified him as Pachirwal,” Bahal said.

“The money was given only on the instructions of Jaitly in her presence,” he added.

The counsel for the Samata leader criticised Tehelka for making such a “technical mistake” and said “such mistakes in the past may have cost my client her reputation”.

The Venkataswami Commission had directed the news portal to file a corrected list of tape number, amount, name of person and date of payment made after errors were discovered and brought to its notice.

Bahal’s revised affidavit said the annexed list was prepared to the “best of the deponent’s knowledge and belief, based on memory and the tapes”.

It contained the names of former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, who was forced to resign after the scandal broke, former Samata treasurer R.K. Jain as well as some army officials, including Major General P.S.K. Chaudhary, Brigadier Iqbal Singh and Colonel Anil Sehgal.

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