2G issue: PAC, CAG gun for Sibal

PAC and CAG attacked Telecom minister Kapil Sibal for trashing government auditor`s findings in the 2G spectrum scam.

Updated: Jan 13, 2011, 00:02 AM IST

New Delhi: Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee and CAG on Wednesday attacked Telecom minister Kapil Sibal for trashing government auditor`s findings in the 2G spectrum scam, saying they were "improper" and may even amount to contempt of the House.

"The sense of the PAC was that Sibal`s remarks were improper, against propriety and an attack on the dignity of PAC and CAG," PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters here.

At a press conference last week, Sibal had described as "utterly erroneous and without any basis" the estimated loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore arrived at by the CAG on account of allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom operators.

Joshi said the forum of the Committee was available to the minister to make any observation or suggestion on the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocations.

Contesting Sibal`s remarks, Joshi said CAG had never said that its estimates on presumptive losses to the exchequer were final.
"The CAG had only mentioned three different figures based on three different models to calculate the presumptive loss. It had never said the report was final," he said.

He said the PAC would consider steps that were necessary to avoid repeat of such incidents.

In reply to a question, Joshi said there was no suggestion or proposal before the Committee today to call Sibal for seeking clarification on his remarks.

The CAG came out with a statement describing Sibal`s comments as "highly improper".

"Making public comments on the matter which is being considered by a Parliamentary Committee is highly improper and may even amount to contempt of the House," it said.
The Minister`s view was later supported by Congress MP and spokesperson Manish Tewari, who lashed out at the CAG for violating canons of Parliamentary propriety.

"The CAG after holding a live press conference on 2G spectrum issue is now advising MPs not to comment on it because the matter is being considered by PAC.

"It is an exotic logic that after going live with presumptive losses contained in CAG report in flagrant violation of canons of Parliamentary propriety, now CAG is resorting to argument of propriety," Tewari had said yesterday.

As per rules of Parliamentary procedure, the CAG said, "When any matter is under consideration of a Parliamentary Committee and the Committee is holding its sittings for that purpose, no persons, including a Member of Parliament should make or publish a statement or comment about that matter".

The CAG also saw nothing wrong in holding a press meet on its report. Since the 1980s, CAG officers hold a press conference after the report is tabled in the House to explain the findings.