Apologise to CAG: Joshi to Cong MPs

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:43

New Delhi: In his continuing battle with
Congress members, PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi on Tuesday asked
them to tender "unqualified apology" to CAG Vinod Rai for
their "wild allegations" against him.

Joshi, a senior BJP leader, also rejected the Congress
members` demand that Rai should not be present at the
Committee proceedings when a retired CAG official R P Singh
deposes before it.
In the wake of Congress members attacking the CAG in PAC
meetings, Joshi seemed to suggest that Congress MPs can
impeach if they are not happy with the CAG but they cannot
make allegations against him in the PAC.

In a ruling, he maintained that the controversial draft
report on 2G issue, in which the PAC was critical of the Prime
Minister, his office and the then Finance Minister P
Chidambaram, and the 3G spectrum allocation, stands circulated
to members.

The Congress members had contended that the draft report
was rejected by the Committee and was not in order.

Referring to allegations by Congress members that all the
reports of the CAG were based on "untruth", "fraud" and
"politically motivated", Joshi reminded the members that no
allegations can be referred or defamatory remarks made against
the CAG, who is accorded the status of a judge of the Supreme
Court.

"No allegations can be levelled against the CAG nor
motive attributed to his findings. If honourable members have
ground to believe that CAG has exceeded its jurisdiction or
his findings are not based on facts, they are at liberty to
seek remedy under the Rules of Procedure and the procedure
prescribed for the purpose," he said.

Joshi said "the honourable members who made wild
allegations against, and cast aspersions on, the CAG in the
PAC must withdraw their words and render unqualified apologies
to the CAG and abide by the ruling of the Speaker on the
notice of breach of privilege against Krishna Menon, the then
Defence Minister."
He said being a person in high authority and under oath
to discharge his duties "to the best of his ability, knowledge
and judgement, without fear or favour, affection or ill will,"
the Constitution guarantees his independence.

The CAG`s conduct can be impeached only on a substantive
motion by taking recourse to the procedure prescribed in the
Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.

The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, read with
the Judges (Inquiry) Act, enjoin that a member shall not make
allegation of defamatory or incriminatory nature unless the
notice of the substantive motion is drawn in proper terms
signed by requisite number of members and duly approved by the
Speaker.

Joshi said when no derogatory remarks can be made against
the CAG on the floor of the House, no allegations can be made
against him in the PAC either.

He referred to an instance of attack on the CAG by the
then Defence Minister Krishna Menon on the CAG in 1960 and the
Speaker`s ruling in which it was said nothing shall be said
against CAG`s remarks whatever he might say and however strong
the language that might have been used.

The Defence Minister then expressed his unqualified
regrets and withdrew his remarks.

On Congress` contention that the CAG should not be
present when a retired official, who had contested the loss
figures in the 2G scam, deposes, the PAC Chairman held that
the CAG is an important adjunct of the PAC.

"The CAG or his representative shall continue to be
present whenever a witness is called to depose so that his
expert opinion and independent advise is instantly available
to the Committee to facilitate cross-examination of the
witnesses," he said.

Joshi held that the apprehension that the retired DG,
Audit (Post and Telecommunications) may not feel free and
frank in his deposition in the presence of the CAG was
unfounded and unsustainable.
"I see no valid ground why a retired Director General
should feel intimidated by the presence of the CAG. I am
therefore of the considered view that any departure from a
well-established convention would undermine faith in the
institution of CAG and set a dangerous precedent," Joshi said.

On the Committee`s draft report on 2G, the PAC Chairman
said the draft report "already stands circulated" to the
members for their information and consideration in consonance
with the rules and the practice and procedure of the PAC.

In August this year, Joshi had circulated the report to
the PAC members with a forwarding letter that he was sending
them the draft report again after consulting legal experts,
rules of procedures and "past precedents".

Joshi`s attempt on June 28 to place the report before the
new committee were scuttled by UPA members following which it
was decided that Constitutional experts would be consulted on
whether the report, which was returned by Speaker Meira Kumar,
can be considered by it.

In his letter to the members, Joshi had said that he has
consulted experts, looked into precedents and referred to rule
books and he believes the draft report is the "unfinished
agenda of the previous committee".

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:43

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