Former Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi has failed to appear before the Shah commission,?
GV: Heavy police security across approach road to Patiala house.
SV: Police check passes as people enter. (THREE SHOTS)
CU & SV: Police security inside grounds. (TWO SHOTS)
SV & CU: Pro-Mrs. Gandhi demonstrators chanting. (THREE SHOTS)
TV: Police keep opposing groups apart.
CU: Anti-Gandhi demonstrators. (TWO SHOTS)
GV & CU: People outside listening to proceedings relayed through loudspeaker. (FOUR SHOTS)
CU: Former Minister of Law Justice and Company Affairs, Mr. H.R. Gokhale, leaves.
CU: Former Industry Minister, Mr. T.A. Pai, leaves.
The commission, which was set up two months ago, has been probing more than 9,000 complaints from official agencies and private citizens concerning alleged irregularities committed during the state of emergency. The commission had set aside two days this week (21 & 25 November) for Mrs. Gandhi to give evidence. Because of her boycott, Mr. Shah adjourned sittings until 5 December. Her statement said: "The inquiry will be of little avail to me when my reputation has been irretrievably damaged." Replaying to Mrs. Gandhi's statement, Mr. Shah defended the Inquiry's conduct, but said it was not for him to try to control press coverage, which Mrs. Gandhi had attacked as having taken on the character of 'trial by press'. Mr. Shah said his inquiry was trying, firstly, to find out whether excesses had been committed during the period of emergency, and secondly, to fix responsibility for any excesses. People whose reputation was likely to be prejudiced would have a chance to defend themselves in the inquiry's second stage.
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Background: Former Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi has failed to appear before the Shah commission, which is investigating the 21-months of emergency rule under the government. Instead of appearing personally on Monday (21 November), Mrs. Gandhi sent a 17-page statement accusing the commission of being "politically motivated" and indulging in "character assassination".
SYNOPSIS: Along the approach road to Patiala House, New Delhi's former high court building, where the commission is sitting, strict security precautions were mounted. More than 1,000 police, including riot control units, were on duty to deal with the crowds of pro-and anti-Gandhi demonstrators gathered outside. Since Mrs. Gandhi resumed an active political life in October, hundreds of people have been arrested in clashes between her supporters and opponents. This time, the small turnout consisted mainly of Mrs Gandhi supporters, so the demonstration was muted.
However, a few small, rowdy groups managed to seep through the security cordon and into the commission compound. In contrast to recent, violent clashes, their protests were limited to chanting political slogans - some for Mrs. Gandhi, others against her.
While the chanting was going on, the head of the commission, former Chief of Justice Shah, was inside reading from the 6,000 word statement Mrs. Gandhi had sent. She accused the commission of violating the Indian constitution in its procedure and allowing her character to be denigrated. Mrs. Gandhi denied she had exercised extra-constitutional authority, and defended her actions as Prime Minister. People outside heard all this through loudspeakers.
Mr. H.R. Gokhale, who had been Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs in Mrs. Gandhi's government, gave testimony critical of her polices. Part of Mrs. Gandhi's statement strongly attacked several of her former cabinet ministers. And she accused the Janata party government for resorting to some of the powers she was accused of taking to misuse its power.
Mr. T.A. Pai, who was Mrs. Gandhi's Minister of Industry, also gave testimony against her, continuing his previous criticisms of her performance during the state of emergency.