Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram Monday said former Home Secretary G K Pillai was “equally responsible” for the second affidavit filed by the UPA government in the Ishrat Jahan case in 2009. Claiming it was an “absolutely correct affidavit”, Chidambaram added that he accepted responsibility for it as a former minister.
Pillai had claimed that Chidambaram had himself dictated the Centre’s revised affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan case in 2009, in which the references to her alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba links were removed.
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“I am saying so. I say it that as minister, when it was brought to my notice that the first affidavit was ambiguous, it had been filed without my approval and it was being misinterpreted, it was my duty to correct the first affidavit. So, we filed a supplementary affidavit after consulting the Home Secretary, the Director of Intelligence Bureau and other officers. That second affidavit clarified what the real intention was,” said Chidambaram.
After reading out the revised 2009 affidavit at the AICC media briefing Monday, he asked, “Which part of the second affidavit is wrong? It is an absolutely correct affidavit and I, as a minister, accept responsibility for this affidavit and it is disappointing that the home secretary, who was equally responsible, wants to distance himself from that today.”
Pillai had also claimed there was never any discussion among officials in the home ministry about altering the Centre’s first affidavit in the case.
“It was done by the minister himself. You will have to ask the minister why he changed it, because none of us changed it,” Pillai had said. Asked whether the move to drop the reference to LeT links had been discussed with bureaucrats in the home ministry, Pillai had added, “No, it was done suo motu by the minister.”
About his remarks that the case of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013, “was perhaps not correctly decided”, Chidambaram said: “I think it is possible to hold an honest opinion that the Afzal Guru case was perhaps not correctly decided. But being in government you cannot say the court has decided that case wrongly because it was the government that prosecuted him. But an independent person can hold an opinion that the case was not decided correctly…If someone holds an honest opinion, he does not become an anti-national or that is not seditious. Did I say that that was my opinion.”
When asked to reveal his opinion on the matter, he added: “My opinion was that I was part of the government when he was prosecuted, he was convicted, I am part of the government. How can I distance myself from that government’s position? But if a third person holds that opinion he does not become an anti-national. That does not become seditious.”
After it was pointed out to him that he had been quoted as saying that there were “grave doubts about his involvement”, he claimed: “At that time, there were grave doubts expressed. Even at that time that is what I have said. There were grave doubts, not there are. There were grave doubts expressed about the extent of his involvement. There were grave doubts expressed about the extent of his punishment given to him.”