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Cong says Chidambaram approved INX media case file after 11 officers signed it, reiterates 'political vendetta' charge against Modi Govt.

Cong says Chidambaram approved INX media case file after 11 officers signed it, reiterates 'political vendetta' charge against Modi Govt.

New Delhi, Sept 20 (UNI) Reiterating its charges that action by the Narendra Modi-led government against former Union Minister P Chidambaram over INX-Media case was a case of 'political vendetta', the Congress on Friday said that the investigating agencies have not revealed important facts to the case, and alleged that there has been a 'sustained campaign of villification and character assassination against the former Minister.

Addressing mediapersons at AICC headquarters, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said "why is the man who has approved what has been approved by 11 officers, been suddenly discovered to be to be a 'kingpin' for having perpetrated, 'an economic magnitude', the phrase that has been used."

"If the penalty for signing on files based on what has come to the Minister, is custody in Tihar Jail, no Minister, I can assure you, will sign any file", Mr Ramesh said, a day after Mr Chidambaram's judicial custody was extended till October 3, by a Delhi court.

Pointing out to the details in the case, Mr Ramesh said the investigating agencies had chosen to suppress the facts in the INX-Media case.

"The INX-Media case was part of a sort of about 24 proposals, which was put up before the Finance Minister for approval and in that file there were 11 signatures. These include signatures of six members of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), that was set up on 1991. After the FIPB examines the proposal, it goes to the Finance Ministry for the final approval by the Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and the Finace secretary", he said.

"The Finance secretary looks at the proposal twice, once as the chairman of the FIPB and the second time as the Finance secretary. This INX-Media proposal has 11 signatures of officers, and the 12th signature, dated on May 28, 2007 is that of then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. These 11 signatures had no objections, no comments. It is only then that the Finance Minister signs. When any minister sees the proposal with the signature from the level below, it is the normal government of India practice that you consider that there are no objections and the case is fit for approval", Mr Ramesh added.

Mr Ramesh pointed out that the INX Media had gone through 11 layers of scrutiny.

'It had 11 signatures, without any comments,'he said and added that "some of these officers, we understand have been spoken to by the investigating agencies".

"There has been no case made out against these officers. These officers have not been found to have done something illegal, something blatantly wrong and when these officers have been exonerated, the question arises, how is the man who has signed the 12th signature suddenly become the kingpin"? Mr Ramesh said and added that "the kingpins are in the government. who are using the campaign of character assassination. It is to defame not only an individual or the formal Minister, but also defame the Congress party, in the process".

Referring to one of the statement made by Mr Chidambaram, when he was in custody, Mr Ramesh said the former categorically said that no officer has done anything wrong.

Mr Ramesh said that he is not suggesting to register case against the officers as Mr Chidambaram himself clarified and quoted, "People have asked me 'If the dozen officers who processed and recommended the case to you have not been arrested, why have you been arrested? Only because you have put the last signature?' I have no answer. No officer has done anything wrong. I do not want anyone to be arrested."

"I can tell that very soon, we will have no minister who will sign any file. As Minster for eight years, I have signed hundreds of files. Sometimes i disagreed with the files that had come to me, sometime I agreed with the files. Where I had disagreed, I have given reasons for the disagreement and where i have agreed, I simply signed", he said.

The Congress leader said that while these are the basic facts, the investigating agencies have chosen not to highlight them.

"It is abundantly clear that this is a conspiracy on the part of the government. Not a conspiracy on the part of the person who is accused, but the conspiracy on the part of the government. Its a case of nothing less than political vendetta. This is the paramount example of political vendetta", he added.

UNI KNA AR 2051

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