Five years after Justice (retd.) S.N. Phukan submitted his report on the Tehelka scam, the Central Information Commission has asked the Centre to provide him a copy of the report for the former defence minister George Fernandes, whose name had figured in the case.
He can get the copy only if the Lok Sabha Speaker had exempted the report from tabling in Parliament. “Lok Sabha Speaker would be the only authority in holding documentation to establish that such information has been exempted from being submitted to Parliament on any ground,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said on Monday.
The defence ministry rejected Fernandes’ RTI application seeking copy of the report on the ground that it contained “highly sensitive and secret information relating to the defence equipments” and has not been tabled in the Parliament.
In the interim report tabled in Parliament in 2008, Phukan had given Fernandes a clean- chit in $ 14 million defence deals and the Kandla-Bathinda pipeline project that had figured in the conversations taped by Tehelka.
Habibullah said the Centre can’t deny providing the report’s copy as it failed to provide proof that the report was not tabled in “acquiescence of Parliament”.