People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 13, 2006
On Pathak Inquiry Report
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on August 9, 2006.
THE report of the Justice Pathak Inquiry has been submitted alongwith the Action Taken Report of the government in Parliament. The Pathak Inquiry Authority was instituted after the final report of the Volcker Committee had listed certain Indian entities as “non-contractual” beneficiaries for oil contracts from Iraq.
The CPI(M) had already stated its position on the Volcker Committee Report when it came out in October, 2005. The UN sanctions against Iraq were unjustified and used by the US and its allies as a weapon to destabilise the Iraqi government. The CPI(M) had held that it was the basic right of the Iraqi government how to utilise its oil resources and the revenues accruing from it.
However, since the names of four Indian entities had appeared as non-contractual beneficiaries in the Volcker Committee Report, the CPI(M) had asked for an inquiry, so that the actual facts can be ascertained.
The Inquiry Report has found that Shri Natwar Singh had recommended a certain individual and his company to the Iraqi authorities which resulted in oil contracts being given to them. He did so in his capacity as a leader of the Congress party. The Inquiry Report has found no evidence of Shri Natwar Singh having got any monetary benefit out of these transactions. It has also found no involvement of the Congress party in these transactions.
Since Natwar Singh used his position as a leader of the Congress, it is for the Congress party to decide on the action to be taken. The Action Taken Report has referred the report and recommendations to the Enforcement Directorate and the concerned tax authorities for suitable action to be taken if any of the laws and regulations has been contravened.
The Pathak Inquiry Report has dealt with two of the four beneficiaries of oil contracts listed in the Volcker Committee Report. One of them mentioned did not lift any oil on the contracts assigned to him. The fourth beneficiary – Reliance Company – appears in three oil contracts (M/09/35, M/10/17, M/11/25) amounting to a total of 19 million barrels as non-contractual beneficiaries. As per the Report, Natwar Singh was allotted 4 million barrels, of which 2 million barrels were lifted. As against this, according to the Volcker Report, the Reliance Company lifted 15.78 million barrels. The CPI(M) had demanded that the Pathak Inquiry investigate these allotments too. But surprisingly, this was not done.
This is not to be confused with the exports by over 125 Indian companies which supplied goods to Iraq under the oil-for-food programme. They had paid the taxes levied by the Iraqi government and these transactions were recorded and legal.
The silence of the BJP on this issue is also illuminating. It was during the BJP-led government that these allotments to Reliance Company were given. The CPI(M), therefore, demands that a special investigation be carried out on the oil transactions and surcharges paid by the biggest Indian beneficiary, the Reliance Company. It is incumbent upon the UPA government to submit a report on the biggest “non-contractual” beneficiary.