Former external affairs minister Natwar Singh on Wednesday claimed in the Supreme Court that he was entitled to inspect documents placed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) before a committee that exonerated him in a scam related to the UN's oil-for-food programme in Iraq.
He sought access to documents placed before Justice R S Pathak committee in connection with the oil-for-food scam.
Natwar Singh said this while assailing the stand of the ED that he was not entitled to seek those documents that were not being relied upon by the enforcement agency in proceeding against him for the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh moved the apex court challenging the impugned judgment of the Delhi High Court sustaining the position of Enforcement Directorate that it would not share the entire material at any stage of the proceedings under the FEMA.
When the apex court bench of Justice Sudarshan Reddy and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar asked if Natwar Singh had specified the document required by him, senior counsel U U Lalit said that his client was not even aware of the documents that were placed before Justice Pathak committee which gave him a clean chit.
Justice Reddy observed that this was situation of two extremes.
While on one hand the ED is saying that it would not share any material beyond what it is relying upon to proceed against the accused and on the other hand the petitioner (Natwar Singh) is seeking all the material that the ED collected in the course of its investigation in case, he said.
The senior counsel said that a fair trial means fair disclosure of material available with the prosecuting agency.
Lalit said that it can't be the case of the ED that it would part with only that evidence that it was relying upon for proceedings against Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh. He said that the ED could not suppress the material available with it.
He said that if his client is allowed to inspect the material then he may succeed in proving his innocence at the show cause stage itself.
Natwar Singh was named by the Paul Volcker Committee formed to investigate alleged corruption and fraud in the UN's oil-for-food programme.
The committee report accused him of using his influence in getting two contracts in the oil-for-food transaction in the course of UN imposed sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussain's regime.