Court dismisses Natwar's plea for ED papers
The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed the petition of former external affairs minister Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh - embroiled in Iraq's oil-for-food scam - for direction to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to provide them with all documents related to the scam.
Rejecting the demand by the father-son duo, Justice BD Ahmed said only those documents that have been relied upon by the ED, an investigating agency, for taking action against the accused would be supplied to them. "In the light of the Supreme Court judgements, I cannot hold otherwise," Justice Ahmed said, adding, "let's hope that law further develops on the issue".
In May last year, Natwar Singh had filed a petition seeking direction to the ED for the supply of the documents, saying that the sleuths had asked him and Jagat certain questions which were not connected with the scam.
Singh had alleged that the investigating agency was harassing him by summoning him for questioning in the scam without providing relevant documents.
Natwar's counsel Arvind Nigam contended that the Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority, constituted by the central government, had given a clean chit to him. "Singh (Natwar) is not a contractual beneficiary," he added.
"The Pathak Authority had established that there was no material derived that could construe that Singh had any financial benefits from the deal," said Nigam.
The government had also accepted the report and tabled it on the floor of parliament in August 2006.
Opposing the prayers in the petition, Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra, appearing for the ED, had submitted that the former minister had been summoned for questioning as there was some prima facie evidence against him.
Jagat Singh along with his Delhi-based business associate Andaleeb Sehgal, Andaleeb's father Suman Sehgal, businessman Vijay Dhar, his son Vikas Dhar, Youth Congress leader Jameel Zaidi and Asad Khan were allegedly involved in the 'cash for oil scam' during the regime of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Aditya Khanna, one of the suspects in the case, had fled to Britain despite the authorities issuing a letter for cancellation of his passport.
The ED was inquiring into the benefits derived by the Indians in the scam, which was exposed by the UN Volcker Committee report. It was alleged that the suspects had earned a commission by selling petroleum products given on voucher by Hussein under the UN's oil-for-food programme between 1996 and 2003.