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House panel gives clean chit to accused MLAs

THE COMMITTEE appointed by the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to probe into the sensational Sting Operation has given a clean chit to three accused MLAs in its interim report tabled in the House on Thursday.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2006 01:23 IST

THE COMMITTEE appointed by the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to probe into the sensational Sting Operation has given a clean chit to three accused MLAs in its interim report tabled in the House on Thursday.

The sensational Sting Operation, Neta Bikta Hai was telecast by two TV channels—-Channel 7 and CNN/IBN—- in February this year. The three e ‘accused’ MLAs  were Minister of State for Backward Welfare Mehboob Ali of the Samajwadi Party  (Jyotibaphule Nagar),  Anil Kumar Maurya of the BSP (Mirzapur) and Somaru Ram of the BJP (Jaunpur).

The committee’s plea is that the original and unedited CD was not provided by any of the two channels. Thus, it was not possible to establish that the programme showing three legislators’ activities was ‘authentic and true’. The committee has, however, recommended that proceedings should be initiated against Rajdeep Sardesai, chief editor of the CNN/IBN for contempt of the House.

As he committed a breach of  privilege by ignoring repeated notices served on him for personal appearance and for providing the original CD or CDs,  a notice should also be served on Sardesai, the committee said. It also held Sardesai responsible for creating obstacles  in the way of independent functioning of the committee and urged the House to direct Sardesai to provide the original CDs.

The interim report of the committee is, however, being taken with a pinch of salt as its recommendations are contrary to what it had unanimously decided at its meeting held on July 17. The committee decided to recommend disqualification of the ‘accused’ legislators on the basis of the report of the Chandigarh-based Forensic Science Laboratory. In its report, the laboratory said that the CDS sent to it were not tampered with and the legislators’ lip movements were the same as was  shown in the Sting Operation. The report was to be submitted to the Vidhan Sabha Speaker on July 18 but it was not done.

According to a member of the committee, who had resigned in protest against pressure of the committee chairman Dr K Rai to review the recommendations at July 25 meeting, alleged that there was no need to ‘review’ an unanimously prepared report.

But Dr Rai pressured the members and later the decision to ‘review’ was manipulated. Besides, it was decided to ‘change and amend’ the report after voting by the committee members.

He confirmed that the committee had not only recommended disqualification of the accused MLAs but also registration of cases against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act. What forced the committee chairman and a few members to change the complete report in favour of the accused MLAs could be anybody’s guess, he observed.

Other members of the committee headed by Dr PK Rai were Dr Ajai Kumar, Kiran Pal Singh, Dr Narendra Gaur, Wasim Ahmad, Shiv Kumar Beria, Ram Swarop Singh, Lakshmi Kant Bajpai, Jagdish Narain Rai and Ram Naresh Yadav.