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Cong cover on '84 probe

New Delhi, Feb. 11: The Congress is in no mood to concede the BJP's demand that the Nanavati commission report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots be made public, either now or when Parliament meets later this month for the budget session.

While the government does not have to reveal the contents of the report outside Parliament, the Congress leadership is believed to be mulling whether it is at all necessary to table it in the House.

On Wednesday, the commission submitted its report to Union home minister Shivraj Patil.

Patil met Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday and is understood to have discussed with her the approach the government should take on the report.

Home ministry officials have hinted that the report, which could contain comments on the alleged role of several party leaders from the capital, could be made public only by placing it in Parliament.

Although Section 3 (4) of the Commission of Inquiries Act, 1952 makes it mandatory for the government to table the report in the House, a senior Congress leader argued that not all reports in the past have been placed.

AICC spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told a news conference today that the Union cabinet would have to consider the report. Only then would the next step of tabling it in Parliament arise.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's argument is that the appointment of the Nanavati commission by the previous National Democratic Alliance regime was not made at the behest of Parliament, nor was the announcement made in the House, sources said.

'It was basically an executive decision in which Parliament was not involved,' said a senior Congress leader. 'Therefore, I don't think it is incumbent upon the government to place the report in Parliament.'

In private, party leaders made no secret of their view that the report should not be accorded much significance by the government.

The Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission has already submitted its report on the 1984 riots, a Congress leader pointed out.

'Did the second commission arise out of follow-up action taken on the first commission's findings' the leader asked.

Party leaders believe the commission was set up essentially with a 'political motive' and to embarrass the Congress leadership'.

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