Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee did not impose any restrictions on telecasting the tapes allegedly containing footage of the cash-for-vote sting operation, his office said on Tuesday.
“There was no direction or suggestion from the Speaker's office either to telecast or not to telecast any material in possession of the television channel”, sources in the Speaker's office said.
The response followed reports that the news channel, CNN-IBN, had been directed by the Speaker not to telecast the tapes till the probe by a seven-member House committee was over. It is also learnt that the Speaker did not ask the channel for the tapes, but they were voluntarily made available to his office on July 23, a day after they were apparently recorded.
Chatterjee, in his reply to the leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani's letter on Monday, had indicated the tapes were submitted to his office voluntarily and the channel retained their copyright.
On Sunday, Advani had demanded the Speaker “make the tapes public without any further delay”. He had also asked Chatterjee to “urge the channel to share the entire unedited tape with the three MPs concerned immediately”.
However, CNN-IBN defended its editorial judgement for not airing the tapes as they were “inconclusive and of poor quality”.
The seven-member House committee scheduled to meet for the first time on Wednesday is likely to ask the channel to provide complete and unedited tape recordings. “In such an important probe, we are not going to depend on secondary sources. We would go strictly by the rule book and the channel in question would have to answer our queries,” a committee member said.