Cracks in BJP over 2G scam probe

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi pushed for a PAC probe into the scam.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: At a time the Opposition is training its guns on Government’s ‘reluctance’ for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the multi crore 2G spectrum scam, Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, appeared to be in a mood to go ahead with the job of inquiring into the controversial spectrum allocation, even as BJP continued to press for JPC.

CAG Vinod Rai, appeared before the PAC today to explain how its report on the issue, filed six weeks ago, put the loss to the exchequer on account of the “irregularities” in the 2G spectrum allotments at Rs 1.76 lakh crore

He explained to the Committee that the figure was arrived at using the "best practices" applied internationally. This involved three models as per which the presumptive losses were estimated to be Rs 57,000 crore to Rs 1.76 lakh crore, Joshi told reporters after the interaction.

The PAC has the statutory right to look into the CAG report.

Addressing a press conference here in the capital PAC chairman and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said, “The CAG has explained the 1.76 lakh crore spectrum scam to the PAC. It is time for PAC to do a performable audit of the spectrum allocation.”

Joshi said the figure of presumptive losses could be debated as to whether to take the lowest amount or the highest amount to taken into account.

“PAC will look into the technicalities of distribution of spectrum, whether the spectrum policy was implemented with due process or not,” the veteran parliamentarian said.
The PAC has already obtained some valuable information from the DoT, Finance Ministry, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and experts in the telecom sector through oral deposition and written submission.

In its last meeting, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura is understood to have told the panel that all decisions related to spectrum allocation were taken by Raja and he only carried out the orders.

He is understood to have claimed that communication between the PMO and Raja were enough to indicate that decision-making powers were confined only to the minister.

On the PM’s offer to appear before the JPC in 2G spectrum issue, Joshi said he was examining every aspect of the letter.

"The PAC has got a letter from the Prime Minister in which he has repeated his offer of appearing before the PAC if it wanted. His office has submitted documents which were asked for," Joshi told reporters.

"We will study the rules and procedures and then take an appropriate decision at appropriate time in accordance with the rules and as the situation demands. We will take a decision on the basis of the collective wisdom of the committee.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday wrote to Public Accounts Committee expressing his willingness to appear before the panel which is going into the 2G spectrum allocation scam. “To the best of my knowledge, the PAC takes evidence from the secretaries of the departments concerned or the heads of departments or the public sector undertakings," Manmohan Singh wrote in his letter to Joshi.
Under Lok Sabha`s Rules of Procedure and Conduct, the PAC or the Estimates Committee cannot summon a Minister.

Under rule 99 of the Speaker`s Directions, the Chairman of a Committee can have an informal discussion with the Minister.

In case, the PAC accepts the Prime Minister`s offer, the Chairman may have to consult the Speaker before actually calling the Prime Minister, though it is a voluntary offer and not not a summons.

On the need for a JPC, the demand for which is being spearheaded by his party, Joshi said PAC cannot comment on anything a government can do or not do. "That does not come within our purview," he said.

"There are no restrictions that we should limit ourselves to the CAG report. CAG report is an aid to the PAC. PAC is independent in itself to probe. CAG report is an expert advise for us. We value it. If necessary we can go beyond it. If necessary, we can ask it to probe further."

The report on 2G spectrum scam was tabled in Parliament amid commotion on November 17.

Agency inputs