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CAG Mehrishi had no 'conflict of interest' on Defence and Rafale matters : Govt

CAG Mehrishi had no 'conflict of interest' on Defence and Rafale matters : Govt

New Delhi, Feb 11 (UNI) A day after Congress raked up the issue of 'conflict' of interest vis-a-vis CAG of India Rajiv Mehrishi and Rafale aircraft deal, the government on Monday said - the senior most Secretary is designated as Finance Secretary and he continues as Secretary of his own Department".

"It is a matter of convention that the senior most Secretary is designated as Finance Secretary and while he assumes a co-ordination role, he continues as Secretary of his own Department," an official said here.

The Congress party has suggested that Rajiv Mehrishi should recuse himself from the audit report of Rafale deal as he was the Finance Secretary during the negotiation for the aircraft.

The government has tried to put up the argument that it is the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance which deals with financial sanctions relating to all the ministries of the government including on defence procurement. These are looked after by Secretary, Department of Expenditure and not by Mehrishi as Economic Affairs Secretary.

"To claim that Secretary (Economic Affairs) as Finance Secretary would have dealt with the expenditure proposals from the Ministry of Defence is totally a figment of imagination and stretch of facts," as per the statement.

On Sunday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley had countered Congress charge in a series of tweets and said after ten years in government, former UPA ministers still did not know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior most secretary in the finance ministry.

Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told a AICC media briefing on Sunday that Mr Mehershi was Union Finance Secretary between October 24, 2014 and August 30, 2015 when Rafale negotiations were on.

"It was between this period in April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone to Paris and finalised the Rafale aircraft deal with France," Mr Sibal has said.

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