The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP cry rises with twin Tehelka cases
- Charges against Bangaru & Jaya

New Delhi, Dec. 6: The CBI today registered criminal cases against former BJP chief Bangaru Laxman and former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly in the Tehelka scam, provoking the main Opposition party to continue its boycott of railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav and his 'tainted' colleagues.

While the BJP slammed the CBI move as 'politically motivated', a meeting of the NDA parliamentary party decided to protest the probe on the floor of the House tomorrow with a view to stalling proceedings.

The registration of the cases came more than three years after the news portal's spy camera caught Laxman accepting wads of currency notes from a Tehelka reporter who was posing as a representative of an arms dealer. Jaitly was shown assuring an undercover reporter at the official residence of then defence minister George Fernandes that she would 'put in a word to 'sahib's office' if the proposal for hand-held thermal cameras for the army was not considered in the normal course.

The videotapes, made public on March 13, 2001, forced Laxman and Fernandes to put in their papers, though the latter was reinstated by the then NDA government even before the now wound-up Justice S.N. Phukan Commission cleared him of involvement in the scam.

In the FIRs lodged against Laxman and Jaitly, the CBI also named two members of Laxman's personal staff, Raju Venkatesh and Satyamurthy, former Major General S.P. Murgai, Kanpur-based industrialist Surendra Surekha and Rajasthan-based Samata leader Gopal Pajiwal as accused.

Three cases have been registered separately against three suspended defence ministry officials ' H.C. Pant (deputy director), Nagendra Singh (assistant financial adviser) and P. Sasi (an assistant).

A CBI official suggested that the bureau could register more cases as and when more offences come to the notice of the sleuths studying the 105 videotapes of nearly 100 hours duration. The bureau ' asked to investigate the scam after the Congress-led government wound up the Phukan commission in October on the ground that it was not getting anywhere ' had initially declined to register cases based on a decision of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs. It sought a detailed complaint from the government, listing the offences that it wanted the CBI to investigate.

The CBI brass is reported to have finally given in and register the cases on the basis of a letter from the department of personnel and training and a note from S.K. Dasgupta, secretary of the erstwhile Phukan commission.

'This is a continuation of a politically motivated act by the central government. They wound up a judicial commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge which was on the verge of submitting its final report and instead preferred an executive police agency,' BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said. 'Such motivated acts are condemnable but one cannot expect better from this government.'

Jaitly accused the Centre of taking recourse to filing cases against her to cover up its 'own misdeeds'.

'It is again a pity that the UPA government has time and ability to take such actions to cover up their own misdeeds starting from Bofors to all the crimes that the present incumbent ministers have committed,' she told a news agency.

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