The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal seals leaks to media on raids

New Delhi, May 8: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today told the Rajya Sabha that CBI officers have been asked not to leak any information to the media about “the raids and recoveries” conducted by the bureau.

The assurance came soon after the government has passed a Bill guaranteeing every citizen the right to information.

Raising the issue during question hour, Haryana Vikas Party’s Swaraj Kaushal said such information given out by the CBI hurts the reputation of the persons involved. He alleged that later, when the cases are heard in court, the figures do not tally. “I would like to hear the Prime Minister’s response on this,” Kaushal said.

Vajpayee emphasised that the Centre has sent clear instructions to the CBI not to leak information to the media. “CBI officials have been categorically told not to give out such information that can severely damage somebody’s reputation.”

But “there is a problem since the CBI does not agree with this viewpoint”, Vajpayee said. “The media has its own sources of information. There, however, has to be a solution to this problem.” The CBI believes it is logical for information to be given out as there is a government-appointed officer to announce details of raids and recoveries. Moreover, the Bill ensuring right to information has been passed.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav took the opportunity to air his grievance against the CBI, which he has accused of “framing” him in the fodder scam.

The Rajya Sabha chairman, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, snubbed Laloo Prasad, saying his grievance was not related to the discussion. Shekhawat himself had a question for Vajpayee. “We would like to know why is there such a high number of acquittals in corruption cases'” he asked.

“One reason could be that the person is innocent,” the Prime Minister said. “Or, there could be some failing in the way cases are conducted. There could be other reasons as well.”

Some members sought a response from Vajpayee on reports that certain CBI officials were trying to influence high court and Supreme Court judges.

“The chairperson should understand my difficulty answering that question,” Vajpayee said.

“I am sure all members understand it,” Shekhawat said.

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