Scorpene deal: CBI not willing to share probe report with NGONovember 24th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Monday told the Delhi High Court that it could not share with an NGO details of the probe into the alleged payment of kickbacks in the Rs.160 billion Scorpene submarine deal. “The report contains details of communication between the CBI with international agencies like Interpol. We have certain arrangements with such agencies under which we cannot reveal such information,” Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for CBI, informed the court.
At the time of filing the inquiry report before the court in a sealed envelope a few months back, the CBI said that it had so far found no evidence of kickbacks in the deal. The report also contained details on the investigations that helped it arrive at this conclusion.
Subramaniam contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah that such sensitive information could not be made public.
However, the NGO, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, on whose plea the high court earlier directed the CBI to inquire, objected to the stand of the investigating agency.
During the last hearing, the court asked the agency to take instructions from the government so that the NGO could be allowed to peruse the report if providing its copy was not feasible.
The bench observed that if contents of the report are not revealed to the NGO, then it would be a “handicap” for its lawyers to oppose the CBI’s findings.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, contended that if the government was opposing a full-fledged investigation into the deal on the basis of the CBI’s findings, then he too should be allowed to go through the report to counter the centre’s contention.
Earlier, the government informed the court that the CBI had studied several pen-drives, e-mail messages and records of telephonic conversations that took place between officials of the submarine-maker, Thales, and the alleged middlemen, but could not find any evidence of kickbacks having been paid.
The government had finalised the Rs.160 billion deal with the French company in October 2005.