The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tehelka calls for hearings on finance

New Delhi, Nov. 17 (PTI): Doubting the Centre’s intention in delaying the cross-examination of financial witnesses, the Tehelka news portal has asked the Venkataswami Commission to modify its earlier order and recall government witnesses for cross-examination before considering submissions.

Tehelka managing-editor Tarun Tejpal, in an affidavit before the commission that will resume its hearing from tomorrow, said the Centre has also charged “that the operation has been undertaken to earn a few crores (of rupees) at the stock market.

“Tehelka, on the other hand, will establish that all these conspiracy theories were invented to shield the guilty and more than one conspiracy theory was invented in an effort to ensure that at least one of the theories would stick and raise a suspicion on the veracity of the tapes,” Asserted Tejpal.

On September 30, the commission had ordered counsel appearing in the proceedings to submit written arguments on “all aspects” except “financial aspect” by tomorrow.

Tejpal claimed that during the first two days of cross-examination, one Shanker, produced by the Centre as witness in financial aspect, contradicted himself on dozens of occasions and it was clear that allegations of motives against Tehelka and its stakeholder, Shanker Sharma’s First Global, would “collapse like a pack of cards”.

“It is therefore imperative that the evidence on the financial aspects be completed first, as the evidence on this aspect goes to the root of the case,” Tejpal said.

“It became clear that the allegations made in Shanker’s affidavit had been made at the behest of someone else and not on the basis of his investigations. It also became clear that his investigations on behalf of the Income-Tax department were malafide and motivated and made only for the purpose of filing these affidavits before the commission,” Tejpal’s affidavit said.

Submitting that there was a “direct and an alive link between the allegations made on the financial aspects and the other evidence concerning the veracity of the tapes”, the affidavit said: “In any case, there is no justification for the indefinite postponement of the cross-examination of the government witnesses.”

It submitted: “In these circumstances, the malafides and motives of the government in making these allegations against Tehelka, as would appear from the cross-examination of its witnesses, would be highly relevant even for the purpose of deciding other issues, which are before the commission.”

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