Amid attack over missing files pertaining to allocation of coal mines, a visibly upset Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he was not the "custodian" of files of the Coal Ministry but made it clear that no guilty person would be protected by the government.
Responding to posers by BJP members over irregularities, including in coal block allocations, he said in the Rajya Sabha that "corruption is there, has been there".
He contended that corruption, which was "regrettable", had been exposed during the recent years because of the RTI and activism of various agencies of the government.
Singh, who was responding to clarifications sought by members on his statement on the state of the economy, was interrupted by opposition members who wanted to know how corruption could be contained when important files of the coal block allocations had gone missing at a crucial time when the CBI was probing it.
"I am not the custodian of files in the Coal Ministry," Singh reacted sharply.
At this, BJP member Prakash Javadekar asked, "then who is (responsible for missing files)"?
Singh stressed that "institutional arrangements" like courts are in place to deal with the issues of corruption.
"Let the guilty be booked.... Our government has no desire to protect any guilty person," he asserted.
Targeting BJP, Singh said Parliament could not be stalled repeatedly over the issue of corruption as it prevents conduct of crucial business.
Earlier during the day, Opposition BJP had demanded reply from the Prime Minister on the missing files issue, saying the Supreme Court too has come down down heavily on the government on the issue.
Raising the issue during Question Hour, M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said the government has admitted before Supreme Court that a large number of files are missing and "Nothing is more important... Prime Minister should come and reply." Replying to the criticism by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley of his government over corruption, the Prime Minister said the Opposition was not letting his government function.
"The Opposition is not letting us work. It is our collective responsibility to give this nation better governance," he said.