CAG trying to give clean chit to Modi on Rafale: Cong

CAG trying to give clean chit to Modi on Rafale: Cong

The letter was signed by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal.

Congress on Sunday brought CAG Rajiv Mehrishi under the Rafale fire, accusing him of collaborating with Narendra Modi government when he was Finance Secretary in committing "irregularities, bungling and corruption" and now "attempting" to give the ruling BJP a "clean chit" as an auditor in the controversial deal just before Lok Sabha elections.

As the CAG is likely to submit its report on the Rafale deal in the next three days before Budget Session is wound up, the main opposition party shot off a letter to the CAG telling him it was "deeply shocked" that he chose not to recuse himself and "publicly accept" the "gross impropriety" committed by him to initiate the audit by becoming a judge of his own case.

The letter signed by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior Congress MP Kapil Sibal also referred to the controversial reference of CAG report being presented in Parliament in the Supreme Court order on Rafale case, saying his "silence" in the entire matter despite the auditor's name being "dragged to mislead" was "even more intriguing".

"These facts clearly bring out on your part as CAG precluding you from auditing your own actions as Finance Secretary and making you a judge of your own cause, which is neither possible nor permissible. We understand that at the fag end of this government's tenure, you as CAG is attempting to help the government by giving it a clean chit certificate through a report likely to be tabled in Parliament," it said.

The Congress said Mehrishi was the Finance Secretary when Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft in April 2015 as well as when the scrapping of the deal for 126 aircraft in May 2015 of the previous UPA government.

It said Mehrishi, as Finance Secretary was involved in the Rafale negotiations and the rules of business of government transaction, shows that the Ministry of Finance and Cabinet Committee on Security were the appropriate authorities for financial sanction and approval of defence deals.

"The cardinal principle of law is that 'no one can be a judge in his own cause'. Constitutional scheme and the essential Rule of Law envisage that no individual can audit or examine or sit in judgement over one's own actions. It has now been revealed to us that the you as CAG is one such glaring case," the letter said.

"In fact, the irregularities, bungling and corruption was happening at the highest level with your direct or indirect complicity and consent. This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter. That being so, there is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party," it said.

The letter said that Congress delegation met him twice on Rafale auditing and he did not inform them or the government over the conflict of interest in the case.

On the contentious issue of the mention of CAG report, which was not ready at the time of Supreme Court order, the Congress said, "your silence in the entire matter despite the name being dragged to mislead the Supreme Court was even more intriguing as any reasonable person or institution would have come forward to call out the blif and falsehood being perpetrated by the ruling Modi government."

Addressing a press conference on the issue, Sibal said this is a "major conflict of interest" and that they now strongly believe that Modi government is doing everything to save itself.

He also said officials should know that elections come and go and "sometimes we are in opposition and sometimes we are the ruling party. We will keep an eye on officials who are over enthusiastic trying to show loyalty to the Prime Minister. We have our eyes on them. They should remember that the Constitution is bigger than anything".